I love the theater. I more I have had the chance to be part of productions, the more than I have come to love the experience. I had almost forgotten that I loved it so much until I was cast in the KVTA production of Mary Poppins a few months ago. Prior to this, I had only been in one official musical, had helped backstage for another, and was in the choir for 5 years of my college’s annual Christmas program. I know that I have not have very much experience compared to some, but I’ve had enough to recognize the lessons that can be learned by being involved in a production in any capacity. There were some of the best growing experiences I had in my time at Ozark Christian College. As I reflect on the productions I’ve been in, I’ve realized that there are powerful life lessons that everyone should learn. There three to me seem to most obvious
A Cast and Crew Work As A Body And A Family
The think that anyone who has had a good experience being in a production would agree that one of the best parts of that experience is the community formed by being in a production together. It’s been interesting how I’ve come to recognize this since I’ve been cast in Mary Poppins. All the other productions I had been in were in college. Therefore, I knew most of the people I was working with, because they were either classmates, staff members, or music department regulars. It was in a setting that was familiar to me. While I did enjoy this setting, it has been an adventure being in a unfamiliar setting.
Being in Mary Poppins has been totally different. When I auditioned, I pretty much only knew the Assistant Director, one of the costumers, a few people I mostly knew by name, and the friend I was auditioning with. My friend and I both made it, but she had to drop out of the production soon after being cast. I really did feel like I knew no one when I started. I also found out that out of our cast of a little less than 50, there are about 10 of us that are new to KVTA, which is a pretty high number. But it’s been pretty amazing how we quickly we all started to work together and get to know each other. Everyone has been super friendly to me and I am truly enjoying getting to know each and every one of them. Even as some of us newbies are finding a way, we are all united in our goal of producing the best production that we can, no matter the size or nature of our part.
This has reinforced a truth that I already knew. The cast and the crew of a production work both a body and a family. They work as a body because each and every person contributes something to the greater whole of the production. No matter how small a part or a job seems to them, they all part of the greater whole. And everyone has to keep doing their part or job properly for the play to go the way it’s supposed to. They also function as a type of family because as they go through the experience of a production, you support each other and bond with each other through the shared experience you have. It makes everyone very close by the end of a production. And in the end, you all have produced something so much bigger than ourselves. And that’s one of the best parts.
Every Part of this Body Is Important
As I just mentioned earlier, every part or job in a production is important. If even one of the background people is missing, it throws off everything. This is every more true of the work that goes on backstage of a production. They are the reason everything runs like a well-oiled machine. And things don’t get done without them. I don’t think I realized this truth until I became one of those people in college.
To make a long story short, my sophomore year of college, I went from being a girl that hardly knew how to put on my own makeup to being in charge of makeup for our Christmas production, and eventually the rest of the productions the school did while I was a student (6 total). I laugh about it know, but at the time, I was terrified! I hadn’t really been in charge of something like that before and I was still learning how to do stage makeup properly, but Mary (my college drama director) had faith in me, and now I’m grateful she gave me the chance to grow in the process. I learned so much and was eventually able to teach others. I came it love my backstage job, and it was a bittersweet thing when I finished my last Christmas production in college.
[If you want to see a little of my specialty makeup work, there are a few pictures at the end of this post]
Through all those productions, I realized how important the backstage jobs are. They aren’t the ones that get much (if any) recognition. In fact, those are the kind of jobs where it’s because no one notices them that they know they are doing their job right! Everything that goes on backstage is important and cast members should never take that for granted. For that matter, audience members shouldn’t either. It's an important lesson for all of us to learn.
As a Christian, I believe humility is an important tract for all other Christians to have, because we should remember that our lives are meant to be lived for the glory of the Lord. But Christians struggle with humility just as much as the next person, so I've observed. That's why I’m so grateful that there is very little ego in Mary Poppins. I’ve been in productions that were on both ends of the scale – very little ego among the cast or too much ego among the cast. It really does make such a difference in the atmosphere behind the scenes and the community that is formed because of it. Through it all, I learned the importance of stepping out of the spotlight and being OK when you don’t always get recognition for what you do. If we always had to get recognition for everything we did, most productivity would stop! That is not the way to get the job done. Remember to be grateful for the part you are playing for the greater whole of the production. That is the best way for things to go the way they are supposed to.
There are just some of the lessons I have learned from my theater experience, and I will probably be learned more as we get closer to opening day for Mary Poppins. I am so grateful for all the productions I have had the chance to be a part of, because each one brought unique lessons of their own, but I will probably save these stories for another post. Remembering these lessons has also been a great reminder of the importance of taking what you can from any experience you have in your life in order to make you a better person. I hope of you are able to do the same thing. Please enjoy a few more pictures from past productions I’ve been in, and stay tuned as I plan to write more about my experience in Mary Poppins over the next few weeks.
Ok, so I technically didn't do this for a play, but I did do it for my drama class, so that counts right? Anyway, I made myself up to be Elphaba from Wicked three times in two years. First time (left) was Halloween 2010, second time (center) was my drama class presentation day, and the last time (right) was for a demonstrative speech a year later (2011). Do you like?