Enjoy It: A Retrospective on High School Theatre
- OnStage New York Columnist
As OnStage’s High School Theatre week marches on enthusiastically, I have spent the better part of it mulling over the multifarious ways that I might approach this topic. See, as a columnist, you’re always looking for an angle. Some way to take the subject at hand and transmogrify it while fusing it with your own voice. But when thinking about all of the youthful joy, camaraderie and discoveries that come along with a career in the high school arts, I realized that being so far removed from the drama of the Drama Department leaves me with very little relevant information on the topic.
And so from my ten years of hindsight, and not quite ten years of toiling in the difficult world of professional theatre, all the wisdom I am fit to impart on my younger counterparts this week is: Enjoy it.
Enjoy the long afternoons and late nights spent in the auditorium long after the school day has ended.
Enjoy working under teachers who volunteer to impart all the wisdom they can before you go on to bigger and better things.
Enjoy wearing musty old rented costumes and helping paint scenery.
Enjoy the power of being different, looking silly, and not caring AT ALL. You will never regret it.
Enjoy the thrill of a first lead role, but learn to appreciate all the gifts that come along with working in the ensemble. Never give up an opportunity to perform even if you didn’t land your dream part. This attitude will work wonders when you start working professionally and come to realize that not everyone gets to be Sutton Foster. That whole, “small roles, small actors” bit really is true.
Enjoy learning all the many joys and headaches of Tech Week and get used to it. It doesn’t matter what level of success you reach later on in life, it will never get any easier. Additionally, and this is for the actors, take note of the magic that tech week brings and learn to appreciate your technical counterparts who make it happen.
Enjoy finding a community of people who share the same hopes and dreams as you do, many of you for the first time ever. Now that you’ve found your people, cherish your time together and swell with pride when the finished product you created together is met with enthusiastic applause.
For those of you that intend to produce later in life, enjoy the last time you will ever get to work on someone else’s budget. Seriously, soak that up and look back fondly when you find yourself launching many Indiegogo campaigns and writing grant applications.
Enjoy every second of making some of your first theatre memories. The backstage chats, the midnight pizza, the cast parties, the smiles, the laughs, openings, closings, entrance applause, and curtain calls. When times get tough later on, these are the memories that will spur you on and remind you why you pursued theatre in the first place.
Enjoy discovering your passion.
Enjoy the freedom of doing theatre just for fun.
Enjoy dreaming big and never stop. Keep those stars in your eyes and if you continue on after school, be aware that the hard work is just beginning.
But for the love of the theatre gods, just enjoy it. Time flies when you’re having fun and the lessons you learn in these years are sure to carry you into whatever profession you choose when all is said and done. So take note of this truly magical time, full of boundless exuberance, friendship, and discovery. Free from the jaded souls and real-life hardships sure to come later on. Enjoy it. You’ll be glad you did.
Photo: Moore Catholic High School