In "Snappy's Happy Half Hour" there is a kid’s show in the grasp of a catastrophe. The producer named Luca or known as Maya Rudds is giving a jarring speech about how the show must be better which doesn't phase Ella Limbaugh or the farmer. The clown isn’t laughing at Luca’s previous comments of the show though and tension is rising.
Throughout middle school I felt lost and bored. I never clicked with any of the clubs or activities that I tried and found myself close to giving up on extracurriculars as a whole. The dreadful feeling of monotony carried until a Saturday in late October when I received a spontaneous text from a friend. Apparently, a small group of comedic shows at Groves, called Freshman Sophomore Shows (FSS), needed boys to audition due to a shortage of actors. In the text from my friend Emily I was informed that it didn’t matter that I had not been in previous shows or had much acting experience. Out of curiosity, I decided to sign up. This group created the most electric and free acting experience I’ve had at Groves.
A few days after Emily texted me, I sat in the auditorium for callbacks, my eyes glaring with a new perception. Instead of seeing a platform, I now saw a stage, and I absorbed every little detail in front of me. In the upper-middle section of the auditorium, I saw about sixty kids sitting. My ignorance as a fresh actor blinded me to the talent of the experienced students sitting before me. An adult figure caught my eye, and I thought “The big kahuna of Groves theatre?” It was John Rutherford, the director and leader of the theater program at Groves. The smiling faces of my friends distracted me before I could finish my thought, so I went up the stairs and sat with them.
The atmosphere at tryouts was joyful and killed all the pressure in the room. Mr. Rutherford pointed in multiple directions in the auditorium, indicating where we would be auditioning for each of the four shows. My legs awkwardly carried me onto the stage, the feeling of nervousness creeping up my ear. One of the Senior student-directors named James put a script in my hand and after giving me instructions, I found that I had to portray an arrogant basketball coach. After shouting myself bored, I did not enjoy any of the character’s traits. In the next rotation, I tried being the antichrist, a little too wacky and predictable. Two rotations later, however, I loved screaming at people as a cynical father named Phil. I loved channelling my inner Dad and castigating: “You’re supposed to be a highschool graduate! A college student! Don’t you think you could be mature enough to stop calling your sister names?”.The character felt so realistic and fun that I couldn’t help remembering him above the other roles I had tried. I didn’t realize until after auditions that the shows were going to be directed by other Groves students. This made me feel less anxious because the directors understood what it was like to audition for these shows. It eased my nerves and I thought less about the directors selecting their cast. Though it had felt like a successful day, after auditions wrapped up, I had zero expectations of getting into a show, considering that a killer donkey impression could only go so far.
A short week later, the cast list was released, and I immediately jumped to the Groves Performing Arts Company page to check it out. My eyes glared and my heart pounded as I eagerly searched the newly posted cast list for my name. Pride and surprise overtook me as I saw that I was cast as the dad in the play "Going to School," by Ed Monk. This stood as my chance to find my calling, and I was eager for rehearsal.
That first rehearsal was all about fun: meeting the cast and playing games. We put on our training wheels and practiced lines while adding movement into our scenes. We took on the roles with relaxation and were told that FSS was about learning new acting skills and finding joy in theatre. The following week, I happily strolled to rehearsal in the Groves auditorium. Prior to the show, I had never met or even glanced at most of the cast. Everyone was so different in how they presented themselves and in how they were once I got to know them. For instance, junior and thespian James H.H was quite deadpan at first glance until I portrayed his nutty father. At a dinner table, Jame’s character Nick jumped out of his chair and swore, “Who the hell do you think you are?” at his sister. That was my cue, so I too jumped out of my chair and slammed my hands ferociously; with my eyes cutting through James I yelled: “Watch your mouth!”. During the scene, I didn’t think much of the line until our castmates brought it up, and we laughed, which helped shatter any awkwardness.
We all disagreed and had our own tolerance for each other, but our opposite personalities found each other’s oddities enjoyable, and throughout the show, we bonded to improve our performances. With each mistake, we helped each other. This made us grow closer even while carrying our differences and disagreements. Throughout the experience, when we talked about our days, we realized that we all were looking for an escape. Every day we talked about how we were annoyed with school and couldn’t help feeling overworked. The lurking nervousness which carried from the first rehearsal shook me, but it was an exciting break from the stress of school.
Yet, after spending so much time together, our rehearsals gradually put everyone on edge. Soon enough, I found myself loathing criticism and rehearsal in general. After every rehearsal, it would be “We need more energy” and “Louder!” which set us in an agitated mood. Each day was either really upbeat and positive or really disappointing to our directors. Shortly after the more difficult days, I hit a breaking point and my directors found me to be too calm in a scene. My directors continuously blurted for me to be angrier and to express my anger more physically. I mentally flipped a switch and just went all out. My energy stayed vibrant as I shouted into my fellow castmate’s face and slammed on their desk. The tension clung to my face, and I channeled it into being an absolute maniac. My directors and actors both appreciated my vigor as it made the show funnier and gave us hope that the show could really be superb. Now that our energy was reflecting from person to person, the show felt so much more freeing and helped FSS resonate as such an outstanding Groves experience.
Every day, after school, I went to rehearsal and poured my soul into being the best, jerky father I could be. Sometimes the days were hard. When a cast member couldn’t correctly push another cast member’s hand away, the directors fumed. We couldn’t seem to get that seemingly simple action right. It took over forty takes to finally get the scene perfect. At the next rehearsal, we had been thrown even more critiques. In this instance, we were told to give more energy and to project our voices. We were told that these were important in theatre, and we all knew that we must be entertaining while, very importantly, being heard.
Before going on opening night, I felt my stomach churn as I imagined the piercing eyes of the audience. With a slightly shaken face, I sat down at my starting point for the show and stared down at my newspaper. When I left the scene, my foot yanked off a tablecloth attached to a table. Though I felt petrified behind the curtain, I heard the audience roar with laughter. That moment removed my anxiety and transformed it into energy to perform better. Without any shaking, I sauntered onto the stage and carried on with my performance. We ran through the rest of the show and had an absolute blast as it made the hearing audience laugh.
Our directors said they were so proud that they could mold us the best cast possible, and we felt proud of ourselves. After FSS, I will continue to pursue more theatre activities at Groves. If it wasn’t for the great community, the great energy If found in myself and others in FSS, I would still feel lost, still feel bored, still feel disconnected and still feel a sense of dread following me like an unmerciful vulture.
My direction was shifted to Brendan or Kyle Maynard during his show, I didn’t really know what to feel. In last year's show, we had a blast getting to know how weird and similar we are through rehearsal. Knowing that this was the last time I would see him in the small community FSS made me fear that in later years we would disconnect in theatre. At the exact time, I thought this I knew that our friendship and similarities were strong and we would always gravitate towards each other slowly. So as I saw Kyle formerly as Nick’s fantasy self and similarly as the new Brendan, I knew that nothing would change.