5 Things I Learned From Theater

 

I’ve been in shows since I was a kid. I’ve been leads, supporting roles, an ensemble member and have worked on the production side. No matter what show or what position I was in, I have always learned something new and incredibly valuable. A lot of these life lessons have stuck with me.

 

1. Hidden talent is everywhere

After a certain point, you’ve been in so many shows with so many of the same people. You pretty much think you know everything about their scope of talent. But then, they’ll get a singing role for the first time. You may have never heard them sing before, and just assumed they didn’t. But once it’s their turn to perform, this amazing voice comes out. It reminds you not to underestimate anyone because people are capable of so much more than you think.

 

2. Always stay on your toes

By that same degree, you never know who’s auditioning for the next show. Obviously, there’s the new pool of freshmen, but sometimes people who have always wanted to audition and never did will come out and surprise you. A lot of the time, everyone thinks they know who’s going to get the lead, but then it’ll end up going to someone totally random. Sometimes people get upset if they didn’t get cast when they expected to, but that just teaches you that you really do have to work for everything you do. Parts aren’t handed to people; they’re earned. Accepting those defeats with grace is something that has seeped into my life outside of theater as well.

 

3. It’s okay to be proud of yourself

We audition for shows, go through callbacks and months-long rehearsal processes. There are extremely late nights making sure that lines sound good, that sets look realistic and that the whole production is perfect. Memorizing pages and pages of a script isn’t easy. So when the show goes up, and you’re standing on stage and people are clapping, it is absolutely okay to be proud of yourself. You spend months making sure a scene is perfect, so go ahead and slap yourself and your cast and crew on the back. The same goes with life. If you make Dean’s List, be proud of all the hard work that you put in. If you got your dream internship, that’s amazing! Don’t ever feel bad for feeling great about something you’ve accomplished.

 

4. Improvisation is key

Sometimes, after all the months of rehearsals and all the times you’ve gone over your lines, you draw a blank. You forget every single thing about the scene you’re in, and have no clue what you should jump to to save it. I’ve seen the panicked face so many times while on stage, and one time, a scene partner just walked off stage completely and left me by myself. But as they say, the show must go on. In times like these, you have to make something up, jump to a different part or do anything. Most of the time, the audience can’t even tell, and a lot of the time, it ends up making the scene more exciting. When life starts going haywire, it seems a little harder to stray from the original plan, but I remember that improvisation is better than giving up.

 

5. You are beautiful

The most important thing that theater has given me is body positivity. You’d think that being in the spotlight would make you feel like you’re under a microscope, but I’ve found that it can actually make you incredibly proud of your body if you let it. Theater allows you to use your body to tell a story and to convey incredibly meaningful themes to an audience. The same goes for backstage. You don’t have any time to really think about your body when you have 30 seconds for a quick change. People of all shapes and sizes are constantly changing around each other and I think I’ve seen most of my friends half-naked at this point, simply due to the nature of theater. It gives you an appreciation for all body types. Whenever I walk into a theater party, all I can hear are body-positive comments from one person to another. “You’re so beautiful,” is heard and said over and over again. This sticks.

 

Maybe theater kids have an odd reputation, and maybe we are a little weird, but I’m so much better for being one.

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