I spent most of last week in rehearsal for a reunion show at my creative arts school in Arlington. We performed two shows this past weekend, to sold out houses.
It was like a class reunion with just the people I like. Only it was also more than that, because there were thirty-five years of alumni participating, so I got to meet new people as well as see with the people who were basically my family for three years.
See that lady in turquoise to my right? She was my musical theater teacher, and one of the first people (other than my mom) to tell me I was talented and I could do whatever I wanted. She led by example–she wrote plays and lyrics, she directed shows, plus she was a great actress herself. I wanted to be her when I grew up.
That blond guy to my left? He used to send me hand drawn valentines. Now he’s an award winning director who was knighted by the king of Belgium for the documentary he made about the Belgian resistance during WWII. (He has a lovely wife and parter and adorable children. I’m sure his valentines are better now.)
That guy in the middle, with the goofy smile? He was MY junior high crush. (Well, he was everyone’s crush.) He just (a) had a baby, (b) released his first album with his band and (c) his wife just sold her first book.
That guy with the glasses? Does the documentary shorts that go on the DVD extras. Yeah, so he hangs out and chats with Christopher Nolan and stuff.
That girl on the box, hovering above me? She (a) got most of the roles I wanted and (b) dated Junior High Crush. So did the redhead on the end. Everyone dated my Junior High Crush but me. But we were friends anyway.
That chick in black in the middle? She’s all in black because she lives in NYC doing fancy NYC stuff. She hosted the halloween party where we played spin the bottle and seven minutes in heaven. You know. Like we would have known what to do with seven minutes.
That’s ancient history. I only attended the school for three years. I loved being on stage (I still do) but it takes a special kind of fortitude to be a career actor. However, my favorite part was the storytelling and becoming a character, and that led me to the realization that I wanted to write books. (It was kind of weird that I ended up working in a theater while I worked at that goal. Or… maybe not.)
Still, the particular chemistry of that environment established the basis for everything. Not just theater school, but that theater school with those people and those teachers. They had an idea for a creative arts school and they made it happen. They created their own shows and stories, they made things out of nothing into something. And they instilled that in the students.
When I was teaching drama, I used to tell the parents that chances were, their kid wasn’t going to end up acting as a career (or be on Saturday Night Live or anything), but that the things they learned in the theater–confidence and creativity and teamwork–would help them in whatever they chose to do. I think that’s definitely been true for my students, as it was for my class.
Enjoy what you do, and do it one hundred percent for as long as you love it. It doesn’t matter if it’s what you’re going to do forever. (Does every student on the football team end up in the NFL? Of course not.) Nothing you learn is ever wasted. It will show up somewhere, some way you don’t even expect.
P.S. Any Glee fans read this blog? You know what? Warbler Nick is even better looking in person. (And not really in high school, so it’s not gross that I said that.)