This past Saturday was a big one for QCT. First of all, the cast of The Addams Family: School Edition was hard at work learning how to tango. But later that evening, we held the ceremony for this year’s QUILTA Awards, to honor all of the good work that happened onstage and off during the 2018 season.
(In case you’re wondering, QUILTA stands for Quincy Little Theatre Awards, which dates back to the days before QCT had a name change!)
I’m glad for the QUILTAs, because it gives me a platform to tell my students and volunteers how much I appreciate all that they do. The text of my speech from Saturday night is copied below. Congratulations to everyone who participated in last season’s shows – now onto the next!
Good evening. I’m so glad to be here with you tonight. We have so much to be proud of as we celebrate the 2018 season.
Out of curiosity…where’s the kids table this year? Where did the students congregate?
Ah, there you are. I just – hold on everyone, I need to talk to them for a second – okay, here’s the deal. If you’ve been to QUILTAs before, you know this is the part where I thank everyone for their work this year, and I say I’m proud of you and I love being your teacher, blah blah blah, I may or may not cry. You know the drill. So just, like, tune me out for a minute. Put in the AirPods and listen to The Greatest Showman. I’ll come back to you in a second.
Okay, adults, so here’s the deal. Thank you for the multitude of good works you did for the student theatre program this year. It took you painting fences, procuring puppets, scanning tickets, or just making sure they get to rehearsal, to create so many delightful moments this year. I’m deeply grateful to each and every person who gave us their time this season.
But, while they’re distracted, let’s talk about these fabulous young people.
Some of our volunteers had great observations about what these kids can do. Our friend Randy Wolfmeyer, after watching a few rehearsals as an assistant stage manager, he said to me – “Do you know you’re tougher on the kids than on the adults?”. My response: “Duh.”
Or, to put it more eloquently, our friend David Samuels said he likes working with the students because – and I’m quoting him here – “they have a greater capacity for learning, and that must always be respected.”
A greater capacity for learning. That’s pretty cool.
Because the fact is, the students used that capacity to its fullest extent this year.
–They sang complicated songs that were written for professional adult voices.
-They took on puppetry and special effects.
—They went on the road and adapted to more than 20 new venues.
-They dabbled in fantasy, historical fiction, cartoons.
-They took on responsibility outside of student theatre – we had youth actors in Big Fish and in Elf, and student crew members backstage, in the costume shop, front-of-house, across every single show. Their reach is endless. We need them every bit as much as they need us.
And they take on all of these challenges just by deciding to. It’s never of question of if, it’s a question of how.
And as an adult, I find that truly remarkable.
Fellow adults, when did we stop doing that? When did challenges stop being fun? When did we start feeling the need to hide what excites us? Is it some rite of passage? Do we forget?
I don’t know. But I do know that whenever I’m having a day where I’m tired or stressed, I’ll see my students respond to a new scene or song or set piece with such a sense of wonder…that it helps me remember.
These wonderful young people are smart, and creative, and beautifully kind to each other, and so so very brave. As their teacher, all I have to do is hold open the door. But, fellow adults, that’s where I need your help. It’s up to all of us to open that door, to encourage their continued learning and growth, to make them feel like the vital, respected members of our organization that they are.
So tonight, fellow adults, I have a challenge for you. At some point tonight, go sit at the kids table. Talk to them. See the power of that great capacity for learning. You might learn something too.
Okay, kids, you can listen again. No more Zac Efron.
Students, thank you for your time and your talents. Thank you for including all of us on your journey. Thank you for reminding us of the joy in learning. Whether or not you have a trophy in your hand tonight , you should be so proud of the dedication, the problem solving, the teamwork that not only contributed to this season, but one day will make you wonderful leaders of our community.
Student theatre participants – please stand to be recognized for your work this year.