Monday, March 23, 2015

Theater Benefit

I was a bead seller in high school. I didn't really sell beads, I just played a bead seller in a school production of Murder on the Nile. My only line was "Lapis, lady, real lapis," and if I remember correctly, I crossed the stage saying that line early in the show and spent the rest of the evening backstage. I never got much farther than that as an actor. The rest of my experience with theater was to be as a writer (a one-act in college) and as an audience member (whatever I can afford, whenever I have the time).

Tonight, I attended a benefit for a youth theater company, Polaris Productions, with which one of my kids is doing her third show. While I was thrilled to hear my daughter and the other young actors perform, I was equally as moved when some of the company's actors and volunteers spoke about what brought them there--how theater had influenced their lives--not just their lives in the theater, but their lives as confident, happy adults. Their one-line beginnings had led them to include theater in their whole lives, and they largely credited theater with making them who they are now.

So often, we--as people and as parents--focus on the long-shot nature of theater (for that matter, of anything creative or daring). Will it pay the bills? Will it get you where you want? Will it be a hard road with little reward? I was reminded tonight that sometimes, in theater, and in life, it's not just about "making it." More often, it's about allowing your creativity and your daring to help you grow, to take you places you might not have gone. Many of the children I watched tonight may not grow up to be stars of the stage. But what they are doing now will help them to be stars in other ways. Did "Lapis, lady, real lapis" begin my journey to where I am now? It's hard to say. But maybe it was the start of taking a few chances--on the stage and in life.

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