As the fall trimester nears its end, you might wither thinking of the next two trimesters looming in the very near future. Even worse, along with finals, jobs, AP classes, college applications, ACT prep, and locking down a Friday date to Qdoba with that someone special, the musical is going to eat up that precious three to six pm nap and Netflix time that you so love. Now imagine what your life would be without the musical: maybe you’d just stare at the ceiling for hours on end, wishing the heating in your house was turned up a little higher, or maybe you’ll head to the library and pound the books until your eyes bleed. Either way, you won’t be jumping around onstage learning Figg’s choreography and building those *magical* theatre friendships that you’ll dream about until the end of time.
What helped me the most when I felt like my life was spiraling into a hot, busy mess during the winter musical season was realizing what I was gaining rather than missing. It’s easy for me to reflect on this now that I know I will never have it back. People like lists these days, so here is a comprehensive list for you.
The things you gain during the musical season:
- Time-management: “How am I supposed to study, have friends, do my chores, work out, and have time to shower when I do the musical?” Trust me, boo, you will find a way. Some tips: make friends in the musical! Then every rehearsal is friend time too. Do your homework during your break time. It’s amazing to see how much you can get done when you know you’re pressed for time (maybe even make it a game.) Participate in the rehearsal work outs! Have a slotted time every night for a shower! It’s all going to get done and you will not die, I promise.
- Unforgettable memories: cast parties, that one rehearsal that just went so well, the feeling of opening night, hours of songs you’ll never forget the words to, the smell of your ballet shoes, that one pretty costume, what more can I say. Theatre is a pretty unforgettable experience any way you’re in it.
- Killer calf muscles. Maybe even some arm or core muscles too.
- Stamina: when tech week rolls around and you think you might just fall over dead from exhaustion and frustration, remember that every day you get through just proves that you are a powerful, strong artist. Not only will you gain physical stamina, but mental and emotional stamina, too. If you work and keep a good perspective, you’ll come out a wise lad or lass.
- A wider perspective on the world: every opportunity you have to immerse yourself in an artistic experience can and should be an eye-opening experience. Especially with a historically relevant and important show like Fiddler on the Roof, don’t forget to learn a little about what you’re performing. It’s not lame to be informed, and it’s certainly not lame to be prepared. Even if you’re a dancer or in the ensemble, it’s still your show. You’re allowed to be proud of what you’re doing and be involved, no matter what part. Imagine what life would be like as your character. Curiosity is a lifelong gift.
- Skills out the wazoo: makeup, dancing, public speech, singing, rocking an ugly outfit, teamwork, quick changing, memorization, etc. It’s all good stuff.
- A family: whether you like it or not, you’re going to be with the same people every day for a few months. It’s up to you how good these relationships are or aren’t, so be kind, care for one another, and always, ALWAYS build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Nobody wants a bad experience, nobody wants to suffer, and nobody wants to feel left out or bullied. Make sure to be mindful that there is always more happening than what’s on the surface of each person. Focus on your own inner peace, and remember that the task at hand is to create beautiful art! A tense environment is not conducive to creativity. Also, if you find yourself feeling some bad feels, talk to your mom, dad, dog, cat, teddy bear, or write in your journal. Gossip isn’t cool and won’t fly in the future (or in the present!) Think of it this way: in the next few years, you might go to college or get a job, and you might be living with a friend or maybe even a stranger (!) and you’ll need to know how to deal with problems when they might arise. What better practice at cooperation and patience now when you can go home at the end of the day rather than being caught out of the blue later!
If TLDR: Be kind, be involved, learn something, and make some memories.
I wish you the best of luck with this winter, and hope you will look back at the musical season with as much fondness as I do. Every experience is what you make it. Now go make some amazing art—you are all so lucky to have this opportunity!
Sarah Mai (2016)