Let me back up a bit, as I realized I have yet to really get into the reason why I came to New York in the first place, other than that whole slow-downward-spiral-into-emotional-crisis thing.
Well, I am here getting my master’s in Educational Theatre, which I always feel awkward telling people because it sounds like a fake degree (or at least it does when people around you are studying things like Physics or Applied Psychology), but I need to get over that because I am actually overjoyed that this program even exists.
I discovered the program my junior year of college while in the midst of my post-figuring-out-I-didn’t-want-to-work-in-TV-after-almost-finishing-my-degres-in-Television funk, the same funk that pushed me to apply to Teach for America. This program (and a few others like it) was my back up plan if I hadn’t gotten into TFA and has always been in the back of my mind these past few years as something I should do one of these days.
I was drawn to these programs initially because I was discovering that I might be interested in education and had always had an interest in (or rather, obsession with) the performing arts. I kept thinking about them when I started teaching as I realized I did, in fact, love teaching, but I found myself not quite loving the subject I was teaching, which led me back to the programs.
I honestly think no matter what route I had taken post-college, I would’ve ended up doing something in this field, so it definitely feels right that I am finally getting this masters, but sometimes, that fact gets clouded by all the weirdness happening in my life and the not feeling quite right and the being unclear on my specific goals. Thankfully, though, this brings us back to last Thursday.
Last Thursday, I performed 25 minutes of Romeo and Juliet – alongside four classmates who have all been professional actors OR attended a conservatory in acting, which was terrifying – then saw a staged reading of 8 by Dustin Lance Black, and in doing these things back to back I had this clarifying moment where I suddenly remembered why I love theater.
In my Shakespeare class, when I performed, I remembered that rush of being on stage, of knowing your performing but forgetting that the audience is even there, and of getting lost in the moment with the other people on stage. I remembered how it feels to really feel those emotions, to fall in love, to almost cry, to get so worked up you can hear your heart pounding as you run off stage. I remembered how much – and forgive me for the cheese and narcissism – I love being applauded. I remembered why I spent countless hours in drama class, dance and voice lessons, drama camps, community theaters, and backstage at musical rehearsals growing up.
I then watched this production, well, staged reading – no set, just actors and some microphones – of 8 and found myself crying. Crying for the mother on stage that had to explain to her son that those people in court telling them that their family wasn’t legitimate were wrong, were small, were not worth listening to because her kids were wanted and fought for. I found myself completely drawn into the drama of this courtroom I couldn’t even see. I got riled up for a movement I’m already so invested in and felt recommitted, all because of a piece of theater.
And in those moments, I was reminded that, despite all the self-doubt and missing LA and hating the rain, I am hear for a reason and that this is where I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be here, studying my passion, so I can show kids that thrill, so I can expose them to those goose bump inducing moments where they feel immense empathy for the people whose lives they are seeing fleshed out on stage and so they can create those moments themselves. I am here because theater shaped me into the person I am today, and I am so incredibly lucky to be getting a chance to remember that and hopefully, one day, in some way, give that to others.