Music, dance, fun, excitement and my current buzz word “creative” are all embodied in “The Theatre”. Not the physical building, of course,  but rather drama, pantomimes and musicals that make up this section of the expressive arts.

As those of you who read my blog may know I tend to write on things that I have come across in my day (which explains the odd day without a post as it means I did nothing). Today I dropped my sister off to rehearse for her school musical, being the person I am I thought I would sit in on the rehearsal. I want to say that I am friends with the directors and a lot of the cast as I was in the show last year; I didn’t just randomly watch the rehearsal. The watching of the rehearsal brought back a lot of memories for me and made me think about what acting has done for me and thus, in case the title or introduction didn’t make it apparent, today’s topic is “The Theatre”.

When I started at High School I was a very shy child who was picked on a lot that didn’t really help with my confidence. I didn’t have many friends as I found it hard to understand people and communicate with them. Even when, in the middle of High School, I did gain a few friends I didn’t quite know how to act. That was however the answer I did act, well kind of. I developed new “mes” until I found one that worked, that made people laugh, that made me happy and that was confident or at least gave that appearance. I think it was this exploration of characters that allowed me later in school to embrace acting.

When I joined musical theatre group I was still nervous, despite the fact that I felt I could act; this was because musical theatre group involved singing. Singing is a skill that I have yet to develop as I don’t have the time or money to be taught. Although the vocal warm ups made me cringe and my audition was not very good in the singing department I still grew to massively enjoy the whole experience and in my first school show I was cast in the part of Knuckles in Bugsey Malone- a reasonably small part but not insignificant, it was enough for me to really get my teeth into. I love the ability to take on a persona and run with it and make it my own. Knuckles is naturally a very funny character so this made my first show an even greater experience.

Another major contributor to my enjoyment was the people. Everyone is so passionate about being the best they can be and making the most of their part no matter how small; I often find it is those with the smallest parts that can make the biggest impact. Working with experienced people was a treat as their support really made me grow. The auditions were done in pairs and as such someone was stuck with me and all credit to her she stayed with me and coached me through it and I don’t think I would have been half the amateur actor that I am without her patience and creativity. I auditioned with her the next year and was cast with her then too; that’s one of the great things about a shared passion you can make lasting friendships. She is coincidentally one of the directors of the show this year.

It would take me ages to talk about all those that helped me in that first show but I would like to briefly mention one more in relevance to the great theatre tradition of improvising. Most of my scenes, if not all of them, were with Fat Sam and he was played by a brilliant actor who is currently studying drama. He was amazing at getting the gist of lines and going with that which meant that if someone else slipped up he could easily role with it and make it look as though all was well- something I haven’t quite mastered. He was also great for deciding on changes in the acting in the wings before we went on but he always did it in a way that endlessly increased the comical effect of the scene, that is one thing I have taken; don’t be afraid to go for it, don’t hold back and stick to exactly what the director said because after all in that moment you are the character.

Getting on stage for the first time was nerve racking and to be honest that never changed. I got the odd word wrong and in one production I missed a whole solo bar of a song, the next night; however, I was on point. That is theatre though things go wrong, you mess up but the key is to not get flustered and to just move on and try harder next time. Too many people get hung up on the mistake and it drags their whole performance down.

Just to throw in a horror story to show messing up isn’t all that bad; in one show where I was cast as a lead in a drama production (not musical; singing is still largely off of the cards) I forgot the name I was meant to be naming the character right at the end and stumbled my way through the whole cast list until I got there and it was fine sure a few people noticed but a lot of people didn’t know it wasn’t part of the script, me just contemplating names. Even the critic didn’t mention it. It shows that often you make out mistakes to be much worse than they actually were and sure sometimes they are genuinely bad but part of acting is being able to pick yourself up and get on with the show.

It is clear by what I have said then that far from that shy timid person that started school I became a confident, outgoing and friendly person in no small part thanks to theatre. The shows also gave goals and excitement, something to strive towards and exercise my creative mind. I haven’t done any acting since leaving High School but I am definitely considering joining the drama group at university, although there is something slightly more intimidating about that in comparison to our close knit school show productions but you never know until you try it.

I really would recommend taking up a bit of amateur dramatics. There’s not really any area it doesn’t help you. It helps with: confidence, making friends, public speaking, diction, de-stressing, expressing creativity, teamwork and of course acting.