Lights Fade Up

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

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| This is the 104th story of Our Life Logs |

I once read somewhere that, “Theatres are modern churches: huddled masses in the dark, looking up at those in the light, telling them what it is to be human.” That is what I want: to share experiences with people that leave them not only entertained but changed in some way for the good.  The path that stretches before me absolutely thrills me to my core. This is my connection to my incredible community: creating events that are a gift for the present time only – that only exist while I am within those four walls with my fellow cast and my audience. I take a look around, and I am amazed at what an incredible place my life is in.

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1 | In the Sun-Kissed Hills

A Southern California girl, born and bred, I grew up in the early 90s in a small town that was filled with orange groves and rolling hills. I spent my childhood on a small dirt road (now a five-lane freeway), listening to the quiet hum of life. For all the beauty I was surrounded by, I always felt a bit of disquiet in my heart.

Me at age five.
Me at age five.

By the time I reached high school in 2006, I realized that I lacked a defining “thing”–a grounding interest that would hone my skills and challenge me. I had friends that each had incredible passions, everything talent from hockey, to singing. Yet, there I was, in the middle of all this creative energy, and still without my own outlet.

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Towards the middle of high school, I enrolled in a theatre class as an elective (as most of us tend to do). There was something so incredibly beautiful about telling a story and being in the room with people as they heard it (often for the first time) hearing the reactions, drinking in the energy. I began ravenously consuming all the theatre knowledge and experience I could get my hands on.

Where I grew up, anyone who was interested in performance enrolled in acting classes at CAT: a local children’s theatre. They did so no later than age 7. But I was in high school, and the anxiety of being “left in the dust” began to set in. I loved what I did, but I knew I was no prodigy, I understood that I had a lot of hard work to get to a place that I wanted to be.

Image courtesy of Pexels
Image courtesy of Pexels

As it turns out, being a late bloomer forced my mindset to be one of tenacious work and a thirst for learning from anyone and everyone I could. I feel that if I had taken acting classes at a young age, I perhaps would have become bored or complacent. In children’s theatres, everyone is handed a role, would that have stirred up the same fire in me?

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Approaching my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to make theatrical performance my focus in college.  When I expressed this to my father, he said, “Yeah, of course. I think it’s great you’re going after this. Though, if you were a boy I would want you to major in something else, so you could provide for your family.”

Those words still ring in my ears and get my blood boiling. I knew perfectly well that a successful life can be built upon any passion, difficult as it may be, and that I could also be the main support for the family I went on to create. I knew before that moment I loved what I did, but after that it became a goal to do it as excellently as I possibly could. And so, I graduated from high school in 2010, and left my hometown to pursue the performing arts.

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2 | Interior: Daytime. A Classroom.

A resume doesn’t always showcase what you are capable of. One day in auditioning class during my freshman year of college where I was organizing my feeble roles of “Ensemble,” or “Woman in the crowd” onto a mostly blank Word document. It was as if my resume documented my inexperience rather than my aspirations and dream roles. My heart sank into my stomach as my father’s words ran a lap through my mind.

Image courtesy of Pexels
Image courtesy of Pexels

Noticing my distress, my professor approached where I sat and simply said, “don’t worry so much, one day you’ll just stop and realize what an impressive, full resume you have. Just keep getting out there.” I think he was talking about more than just my feeble resume, I realized that I needed to shift the way I thought about success and the way I thought about my experiences. Since then, I have thrown myself into my work not only with theatre, but every aspect of my life that I want to see thrive, and I try looking at where I’ve made it to from time to time.

It’s incredible how fast seedlings grow when you just let them be for a little while.

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3 | One Day, You’ll Just Stop and Realize…

Later in my time at college, I found a distaste growing in me. All the other performance majors talked shop about different strategies of scooping up roles and how to impress casting directors. There was something very “rat-race” about it, and I found myself drawn more and more towards the idea of being someone who helps in creating more opportunities for others rather than scraping for the few opportunities that appeared. As it turned out, my friend and a close professor shared with me a similar itch they were looking to scratch.

That professor structured his classes in a way that allowed for group discussion after each play that was read. So, one day during a discussion in the professor’s class, I mentioned my distaste for the unappealing scramble for the few acting opportunities. My professor shared how he had wanted to start up a theatre company for a few years and suggested that we meet during his open offi