I’ve been thinking of creating a blog for a couple of months. Primarily I thought I needed a blog because I have written a novel for middle school students and publicity is everything, right?
Right. So, I gave in and created this blog.
That’s me giving announcements prior to a show.
You see, I have been a drama teacher and director for thirty-five years. 35!! Holy mackarel, that’s a long time. In that time, I have also directed around two hundred plays or musicals with adults and children alike. Today, I realized that what I do is important. I love theater just as much or more than thirty-six years ago. Today I was a speaker at a career day for eighth grade girls. My book just happens to be about an eighth grade girl–what is the chance of that?
Anyway…when the girls began to visit the various women’s tables, I became a little nervous. Okay, I was really nervous. I thought, “What do I have to tell them about my career? Is it a career? Why is it important for me to share about it?” The first girl who visited my table was a friend’s daughter. Whew, that made it a simple interview. Sarah wants to be an actress or a model or on some days–both. She’s pretty, fairly tall and smart.
Sarah doesn’t need me.
I thought, “Sarah doesn’t need me. She’s all ready crazy about theater.” I relaxed a bit after her first of three hugs during the thirty minute session. Then other girls arrived at my table. They weren’t as put together as Sarah. Although pretty enough, they appeared scared and unconfident throwing their very long and very straightened hair over their shoulders.
“Do you like theater?” I said. “Do you want to be an actress?” One girl told me she had taken LOTS of acting classes in Denver at a theater I had never heard of before. Maybe she was exagerrating or had only wanted to take classes there and pulled its name out of the blue. Regardless, my gut told me she hadn’t even stepped on a stage.
Then two more girls arrived to join her. One cutie shared that she was told by their mom, “You are so dramatic you ought to be an actress.” This statement in her book meant she was going to be one. Mom said so, right?
Over time, I relaxed as did the girls. I must have spoken to about forty would-be young artists, hopefully. A couple of them said odd things but that’s understandable at the age of about fourteen. We girls say strange things around this time in our life. Words just jump out of our mouths before we realize what we have said–kinda’ like my main character in my book, Meanie Bea’…
One girl, with half of her head shaved and scary thick black eye liner, studied me for a long time. Finally, she said, “My brother’s friend is a professional actor in New York. He plays female roles.” I said wondering, “You mean, he’s a female impersonator?” “No.” She said, “He’s gay. He likes to play roles for women. You know, because he’s gay.”
My job is to broaden people’s minds.
It was then that I realized what my job is and has always been–to broaden people’s minds about theater arts. My job is not to teach or direct, but to create conversation about theater with people. It doesn’t really matter what we talk about. We just need to chat about theater with someone, because in doing so, it keeps it necessary. And because it’s necessary, it’s important. That’s my job and I’m sticking with it. Next time, I’ll explain to you about Meanie Bea’.