By Sarah Vandewalle
(This blog post is part of a continued series created by our apprentices about why they love theater)
My first theatre experience was playing Charlotte Sowerberry, a funeral director’s daughter, in our local church’s production of Oliver!. I had a long, flowery dress, a cute little cap, and probably two lines. But I spent hours memorizing the perfect cadence for those lines and practicing just the right faces. The other kids in the show and I would get together backstage to run lines or go over the dance steps again and again. On opening night, the pews were packed with people laughing, crying, and cheering. I was hooked.
Theatre has been my passion ever since that show. Nothing feels as tangible, communal, or expressive as theatre does at its best. Theatre can do and be so many things. It can be a heartwarming musical with spectacular dance numbers and dazzling effects. It can be a socially conscious piece that questions the way we live. It can be a totally avant garde artwork with experimental movement and structure. In theatre, the possibilities are endless, and new innovations are happening all the time. I love that my theatre experiences have been so diverse; in high school my favorite show was an adaptation of The Night of the Living Dead. The first production I was involved in at Tufts was a devised play, written from community contributions, called Things I Never Said. As a senior, I did dramaturgy for the blockbuster musical Next to Normal. Theatre can truly tell so many stories in so many ways.
Perhaps more importantly, theatre creates community. Quite literally, it brings people together; it brings rehearsal staff and actors together to create a show, and audience members together to see it. Especially for the community groups that create productions together, such as churches and schools, theatre builds strong bonds and lasting memories. The time I have spent on productions throughout my school years has given me great friends and wonderful experiences. Community and regional theatres (like Gloucester Stage) provide this same kind of community through their art. Theatres are spaces for people to come together, enjoy a beautiful piece of work, and have a communal experience. They can talk about what they’re seeing then and there, whether the play is about love, national politics, local events, or some other theme. The opportunity to create this kind of community is what has always drawn me to theatre, and what will continue driving my passion.
*GSC Blog posts are the select opinions of individual employees and may not necessarily reflect the views of Gloucester Stage as a whole.