I’ve been thinking a lot lately about opportunity.
Today I had the unique opportunity to help in the scene shop. Our wonderful technical director/designer extraordinaire Paul Denckla let me paint a few things for our set. As soon as I got a paintbrush in my hands, I couldn’t help but be reminded of what it was like to work on shows as a kid. I did a lot of theatre growing up, but some of the best summers of my childhood were spent in the GuildKids program with the Dayton Theatre Guild. We rehearsed the play, we sewed costumes, we painted scenery and props – and at age 11, I thought the whole process was enthralling. I still have some of the things I helped created for those shows. In hindsight, it was an extremely formative experience.
For a shy, awkward kid, being involved in the theatre gave me this sense of possibility. When your friends can transform into witches, rabbits, and munchkins, what can’t they do? When you can build another world with some cardboard, paint, and felt, what can’t you do? Being in the theatre taught me that my imagination was powerful. Theatre taught me to work hard and work smart, and held me accountable to a strict deadline. Theatre taught me how to collaborate with new people. Theatre taught me that I had the potential to create and explore, which would get results.
And today, many years later, as I sat scene painting in a new setting, it hit me: that shy, awkward kid has transformed into a shy, awkward adult who holds onto those same ideals. Only this time, I’m working in the theatre because it is my career, my choice, and my passion. What a lucky lady I am.
This week at QCT we are preparing for the opening of Shrek TYA. There are 28 very
talented students involved, a large crew of both kids and adults, and a hugely talented creative team at the helm. There’s a line in the show where Donkey asks Shrek, if he could be anyone, “who would you pick?” Man oh man, this is a big idea to put in a show meant for young audiences. It’s nice to think that we always get to pick who we are. Too often life might throw us obstacles – finances, health, societal pressures – that keep us from choosing who we are. Somehow, right now, I am one of the very fortunate people who gets to make that choice. And I get to do so because I have been given a great deal of opportunity:
– I have parents who embraced what a weird kid I was/am. They gave me the resources to become involved in the theatre. They supported the choice to make it my career.
– I had outstanding teachers. Yes, I mean teachers from school, but also the directors/mentors/adults in my life who encouraged me. Jene Shaw, the fearless leader of that GuildKids program, was one of the first people who told me I’d be a good director. She is one of many positive influences on my creative and professional life.
– I currently work on an incredible team. The talented and hard-working staff, the eager and able-bodied volunteers, and the enthusiastic students are the driving force behind what I do at QCT. Their positive energy makes it a joy to go to work every day.
So is this whole post to celebrate how lucky I am right now? Maybe a little bit. But all of this is to say that I recognize the impact of a good opportunity. My goal in our new season is to give that kind of opportunity to more students. We’re writing grants, we’re pursuing scholarships, we’re developing programming to make the theatre accessible to whomever wants or needs it. I can do better, though, and I’m trying to learn how. My door is open to those with suggestions. Come and talk to me in the theatre – I might make you paint while we talk, but as it turns out, that can be an opportunity in itself.