Today I am going to talk about the theatre camp that I grew up going to. The one that, after finally seeing the finalized cast list, I will no longer be a part of. This isn’t a bitter or salty response to a rejection. This is just an acceptance of the fact that life is gently guiding me onto bigger and better things. But that doesn’t mean that this program doesn’t deserve one last huzzah. One last mention. One last goodbye.
I started going to this camp at the age of 11. It started out as a summer of dance classes, acting classes, improv classes, and music lessons. When I was 12, I played a back-up singer to the Kaa in The Jungle Book. From the ages of 13 through 17, I played a variety of chorus roles in shows meant for young children and families. At the age of 20, I participated in a Cabaret and a One Act scene. At the age of 21, I performed for my final time in a One Act. I suppose this last audition was just a chance to leave on a powerful note. Literally.
I don’t know how to properly express what this program means to me. I got to play a variety of fun roles. How many people can say that they got to be a wizard, fork, munchkin, dinosaur, mime, and scary eye-monster? I met some of my absolute best friends through this program and some life-changing mentors. Also quite a few people whom I idolized and who inspired me to be the person I am today. This summer camp absolutely changed me for the better. Each and every summer was a rollercoaster and each summer I came out as a changed person. I learned so many lessons about life, discovered so many hidden talents within myself, and really let my spirit shine. It was magic, pure and simple.
The summer I was 17 was supposed to be my last summer. The Cabaret and the two One Acts were an add-on. They weren’t supposed to happen. But here’s the thing. The six years going from show to show taught me many life lessons. Life can be magical, if you’re with the right people. Look beyond what you see. Home is where the heart is. Never underestimate anyone, including yourself. Good will always triumph over evil. Compromise is the way to peace. Every day is an adventure if you look at it the right way. DISNEY MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER. Along with quite a few lessons on crushes (90% of my crushes, at the least, came from this program) and quite a few wild emotional adventures. This camp always went by in the blink of an eye.
However, the two add-on years completely changed my life. Gave me something I never knew I needed. Cabaret taught me to have faith in the world again. That we can all be the hero of our story, that the world is an adventure, and that the rough times are just a part of the journey. Cabaret reminded me to believe in life again. That things can and will get better. That life will slow down sometimes, life will get hard, and life will be a struggle. But that’s just character-building stuff. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
My first One Act reminded me to believe in myself. I proved myself to people who had never looked twice at me or thought me the fool. I made new friends. For the first time in a long while, I felt like myself again. I knew what I had to do moving forward. I had to live my life for myself and cut out the people who didn’t fit into my narrative. Life’s too short for the critics and the doubters. For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to please whatever group wouldn’t give me their approval. Instead, I looked around at those who loved me unconditionally. Who accepted me as I was. And my life has been better since that very moment.
My last One Act, the last performance I will ever have in this program, was a sight to see. I got to scream like a lunatic, run around like a crazy person, and sass out the other characters like there was no tomorrow. I got to play a character that was the total opposite of my shy and meek real life persona. It was honestly a blast. I had fun and supportive scene partners. I had people laughing so hard that I had to pause before saying my last line. I had other characters cowering in fear of me. I got a round of applause for my dramatic death. The whole experience was amazing, fun, and unforgettable.
So now it seems that my time with this camp is at an end. It’s not just the rejection. Last summer, while sitting and watching the end of the year goodbye video, I got this feeling in my bones that this was the end. That this would be the last summer I spent there. It felt like the end of a party, when the lights are turned on and you see everything as it really is. For a moment I saw my ten years there from an outsider’s perspective. I saw all the emotions, all the angst, and all the insanity. I saw the kindness, the friendship, the love, and the community. I realized what an impact this program had on me as a person. And I realized that the party was over. It was time to go home.
When I looked at the cast list today, I expected to be mortified. Disappointed. Self-loathing. Depressed. I had the chocolate, inspirational quotes, and pick-me-up movies ready to go. But I felt none of those things. If anything I felt at peace. I felt like the audition was a long shot anyway and that this was just the final sign that my life is going in a different direction now. And that that’s okay. The past two years were a gift and I see that now. My journey was supposed to end earlier, but somehow I got two additional years. I’m so grateful for that. So I’ll see this last show when the performances start. I think it’ll be a great show! But my personal story here has ended. This program has taught me all that it can. It has shown me what I needed to see. It has shaped me into the person I am today. Now it’s my turn to write my own story.
“We all change, when you think about it. We are all different people all through our lives and that is okay. That’s good. You’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day. I will always remember when The Doctor was me”-The 11th Doctor (Doctor Who)