When I saw my first play, I cried. I don’t even remember what the play was about but I remember emotions swelling in me and my heart feeling broken. I knew I wanted to be able to express those feelings and feel understood by other people. I was ten years old.
It took me 7 years to tell anyone I wanted to act. Senior year of high school, I was mistakenly signed up for Drama class by the administration and could not get out of it as badly as I tried. I was terrified of public speaking and the thought of acting in front of my high school crush and other hotties left me in pools of sweat. I skipped that class for most of the year. Finally I struck a deal with my Drama teacher. I’d do several long scenes to make up for me ditching and he wouldn’t completely fail me. I got an A in the class and a standing ovation from my peers.
I told my high school guidance counselor and parents I wanted to act and that college may not be for me. I was convinced otherwise and attended U of M. There I brought up acting again as well as a minor in Linguistics only to be told neither was very reliable for income. I majored in Economics and continued to live in my imagination.
I moved to NYC to work in public policy and unknowingly started dating an actor. One night, after he had finished rehearsals for a show, he came to my apartment with this look in his eyes that I wanted. I think it was fulfillment, something I hadn’t remembered feeling since my senior year drama class.
I quit my job and started doing auditions a month later and haven’t looked back since.
It was tough for me because I didn’t have the credentials or resume but what I did have was commitment. After denying myself a chance to perform for so many years, the thought to fail did not pop in my head because I had failed to try so many times, which was worse to me. My first role came 4 months after I quit my job. It was a semi-terrible contemporary piece performed in a rented warehouse in Queens and one of the best days of my life.
At 26, so many years after my first play, I sometimes find myself in disbelief that I’m able to perform live in front of audiences that appreciate the effort and time I’ve put into my work. At the same time, I know theatre needs to grow and expand. There are too many untold stories being ignored and it is quickly becoming an elitist activity, desperately in need of broadening its appeal to the public. I hope BurlesqueAsItWas will be a part of that growth and expansion.
This is not an “if I can do it, so can you” story. It’s an “if you say you want to do something, don’t let anyone hold you back, not even yourself” story. I can’t wait to see what you decide.