Growth from a Stage | Teen Ink

Growth from a Stage

March 4, 2020
By olivialiebe BRONZE, Hartland, Wisconsin
olivialiebe BRONZE, Hartland, Wisconsin
1 article 1 photo 0 comments

“Hey, I heard them call your name. Olivia, right?” I turned to see an extended hand followed by an unfamiliar face. 

My third community theater audition in the midst of the summer between my sophomore and junior year was in an obscure building thirty miles north of my hometown. I watched as people dressed in athletic wear pulled out their jazz shoes and began to warm up in the hallway. I looked down at my pink dress and lace up heels. I didn’t own jazz shoes. As I hesitantly pulled out my socks, intimidation engulfed me in an unacquainted way; surrounded by one hundred foreign faces, I barely mustered enough strength from my diaphragm to sing the sixteen-bar audition cut. 

Now I could talk about theater all day. I could fast forward and tell you about the rush that I felt as I sat backstage, anxiously awaiting the overture on opening night of that very show that I auditioned for. But community theater contains so much more to me than those momentary feelings that have simply become blips of my existence. I didn’t realize in that moment, as I looked around the unfamiliar room at those unfamiliar faces, that I was indeed looking through a window. A window that has shown me an abundant glimpse of the world: the raw, real world. 

As I began to develop small connections with each of my seventy-six cast members, I began to realize that the desire I had to return to rehearsal every night did not solely come from my enthusiasm to learn more choreography or to study my stage blocking. The burning passion in my heart was for the people: to learn about the people, to hear their stories. I observed that the show that I delightedly participated in would not have been quite as colorful without the eloquent words and dedication from twenty-three year old Joe or the persistent and frightening instruction from sixty-one year old Jackie. And with this, I discovered that the importance of individuality is not only true of theater. As several of my directors have stated, the presence of complete eccentricity from every person in an audition room is required for a director to appropriately cast a show in a way that allows each role to speak to each soul. Correspondingly, how shallow would the world be if every person behaved in a way that mimicked that of their peers and mentors? 

This idea encouraged me, and I began to spend as much time observing my fellow actors approach newcomers with high-fives and wide smiles as I did learning lines and music; small moments off stage turned into small moments spent listening to enlightened cast members reveal their motives for spending unending time with a community theater company in West Bend, Wisconsin.

Through each profound interaction, I began to acknowledge that as children and young adults we spend countless hours learning rudimentary mathematics and spelling skills and so little time learning how to be passionately inquisitive about the people around us. This discernment attracted my attention because when I take interest in the people around me, I begin to act in ways that sincerely change the world around me. 

“Hey, I heard them call your name. Olivia, right?” I turned to see an extended hand followed by an unfamiliar face, and I smiled. I approached the door of the audition room, ambitious to cultivate a new friendship with this welcoming cast member, while enacting my true passion: my passion for learning about people. 

I return to the stage for theater, yes. But not as a fundamental focus. I return for the quiet moments listening to life stories in the parking lot. For the moments spent watching. And for the opportunity to implement curiosity while serving the precious souls on this earth.

The author's comments:

As one of my college essays, I decided to reflect on one of the most impactful experiences of my life: community theater. Although I didn't have an extraordinary story to tell, I found that there is wonder in the ordinary. 

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