Those Moments When Being On Stage Changes You

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  • Lauren King

I’ve been doing amateur theatre since I was 13 years old and in those four years, I have never been on stage.

Hi, I’m a 17-year-old girl from Scotland. I’m in my last week of college where I’m studying journalism, and I have no idea what I want to do with my life. Throughout high school, I was known as the theatre kid, and with such a title came a lot of torment. With such torment came a lot of confidence issues. I hide it well. I’m very good at pushing my anxieties to one side and, ultimately, I post that selfie, I wear those clothes, and I dye my hair that colour. But the anxiety is never not there; I’m simply drowning it out with a loud and internal “LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA.”

But when I’m performing, it’s gone. My mind is at peace.

I recently finished a week-long run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, where I was a dancer. It was the best production I have been a part of, and I cannot express my enjoyment from that week. Rehearsals were hard. I lost my passion for theatre and struggled to enjoy myself. After a pep talk from a fellow dancer, I was reminded as to why we do this – why we perform.

It’s an escape.

Prior to the dress rehearsal, I had a little moment where I thought I wasn’t good enough: I wasn’t talented enough to be on that stage. It didn’t matter what anyone told me; I was adamant that I didn’t belong in the theatre.

Beginners were called and, lucky for me, the opening scene was a funeral, so my tears and ruined makeup was appropriate. I took my position and dreaded the moment those curtains opened – I didn’t want to be exposed, to be judged, laughed at, and talked about. The heat from the lights dried the tears, and the red velvet safety blanket was removed.

But something changed.

It wasn’t a blanket that was removed; it was my fear. I stared into the dark auditorium and felt a feeling that I still fail to describe. I wasn’t myself – I was a young Argentinian lady from the 1940s. All the fear, anxiety, and problems from reality disappeared. I was a different person, but I had never felt more myself.

From dancing in Buenos Aires to assisting Eva on the Rainbow Tour, I was confident; I knew I belonged alongside everyone else.

Even in the wings awaiting my entrance, I was shaking with nerves and worry. But when the lights hit my face, and I was visible to the audience, I was the poised, passionate dancer that the choreographer believed I was from the start.

It’s hard when you don’t believe in yourself because, when you don’t, nothing that anyone says will change your opinion. For someone who doesn’t believe in themselves, it means so much to hear that you made someone proud. I danced the routines and did them justice. The choreographer recognised that and expressed her pride. I was given a chance because she believed in me, and I just needed to believe in myself.

Hi, I’m a 17-year-old girl from Scotland, and I have never been on stage.