How Doing Theater Has Changed My Life


Elaina Freeman , Writer

At a young age, people are able to figure out their passions. As children, we decide what brings us happiness and what we enjoy doing.  For most kids, they find this happiness in sports. They love playing their respective sport and can’t wait to get on the field.  I never found that within sports, granted I never tried. Honestly, I never felt the need to try sports because I had found something different; theater. 

In a rotation of different activities offered that semester I decided to try the acting class the Fort Banks offered. Truthfully, it was the most exciting activity seven years old me tried, so I stuck with it. Flash forward to many summer camps and short shows by the ATC drama club later, I was so excited to be able to finally do real shows!

In my mind, doing drama has always just made sense. I was devastated when I found out I did not make it into a show but honestly it was for the best. If it hadn’t been for that rejection, I never would have pushed myself to get better. I worked twenty times harder than I had before on my audition and I was more determined than ever to get in a future show. I wanted to prove myself and the panel that I deserved to be there.  I wanted to show everyone that doing this is so important to me and that I would never give up. The audition panel saw how hard I had worked and how far I had come just in a few months. 

Honestly, I tried to soak up every second of the rehearsals. I was learning so much and I couldn’t wait for rehearsals each day! I couldn’t wait to actually open the show, but I had no idea what the world had planned for 2020! The day before the world stopped, we were in rehearsals planning for the future of our show.  Then everything changed!

Our show, like everything else, completely stopped. Theater itself ceased to exist during the pandemic. During the pandemic, virtual shows became  normalized. Performing on social media was the only way people performed. Like many other  shows, our show became virtual. For the next two years, theater was basically nonexistent. 

During Covid, I started listening to musicals constantly. They became a sense of escape from reality. With every new musical I listened to, the more I became transfixed by the world of musical theater. Honestly, the more I heard, the more I realized how much I loved it. Listening to cast recordings became the best distraction from the fires of the outside world. 

Slowly, but surely the theater community were given slight glimpses of hope into its long awaited return.  I counted down the days until the Broadway marquees were once again lit up, in hopes that soon I would be able to get back to performing too. Eventually, schools were given the all clear and theater began to happen again.  As an eighth grader, I was finally able  to participate in my first real middle school show and nothing felt better than being on stage. 

Standing on the stage during bows, I realized how much I missed theater and how much I needed to be there. My smile was hidden behind my mask, but it didn’t change what I was feeling. I felt so care free and truly happy, the feeling of complete and utter excitement. This feeling of pure joy was something I hadn’t felt in so long! I knew I needed to hang on to that feeling and that I never wanted to lose it!

I can’t even begin to describe the long term effects doing theater has had on my life. For starters, it has given me a place in the school community. Most of my peers have judged me for my interests. However, I know that if I walk into the Black Box Theater wearing a Hamilton t-shirt, I won’t be laughed at and ridiculed. I will be met with references and harmonies thrown at me left and right. I will never be judged for my differences, instead I will be encouraged to embrace them.  I know that I can show up and be myself, without a fear of being judged. As someone who is constantly afraid of judgment from her classmates, it is nice to know that I fit in here.

Doing theater has increased my self confidence, been the foundation of many lifelong friends, and has shown me that there are no limits to my creativity. When most people tell you they are in the ensemble, they say it through gritted teeth. For me, that’s not the case.  It doesn’t matter what part I get as long as I get to be part of the show. Like Ringo Starr “I’m just happy to be there”. I know that theater is not for everyone but everyone is welcome here. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe in, we’ll welcome you with open arms and a show tune. Nothing compares to the magic of performing for a crowd. So you keep your hockey sticks and football helmets. I’ll be just as happy over there with my sheet music and mic tape!