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Yes, and… a multi-hyphenate’s origin story

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Why I gave up trying to define myself.

What do you do? What are your interests? What’s your major?

I have always struggled to answer questions that require a singular or definitive response. I am a connections person. I see connections everywhere. I make them among my talented group of friends. Tiny details, minutiae are my favorite. They weave the most intricate roadmaps from seemingly disparate topic to another. I think this is why Theatre played such an important part of my identity and has been a lifelong companion. Maybe I am a contrarian or flighty, or maybe there is something deeper and more human about interacting in a world seen through a theatrical viewfinder.

What Theatre means to me.

In second grade- I was a storyteller. I loved the stories and messages I heard at church so much, that I would stand on the lunch tables during recess at my public school and preach to my friends. I engaged my emotions with abandon and would command my body, voice, and imagination to become the character – doing WHATEVER it took to convey the story. Picture a chubby, clumsy Patti Lupone laying hands on her 6 year old peers.

I had an awesome Music teacher named Ms. Brilli. She taught chorus, carted our elementary dance club kids to the malls to perform folks dances on the weekends, taught winds and strings, and produced a yearly musical. I loved her. She was a multi-hyphenate queen, and when chubby madame Lupone auditioned for her production of Cinderella (which had been cast the day prior), she decided to write me into the show (siphoning off half of the other 2 step-sisters lines) because- HELLO!?- I was that good.

I got to the stage. I slayed. The applause just barely filled the basketball gym turned TheatRUH– but to me it was defeaning. The stage- performative storytelling- wrapped her arms around me and I pressed in.

I was blessed to have a consistent arts education in my public school. I tried on roles. I took up space. I spoke up. I became a reader. I wrote my first formal play 1 year after Cinderella and transitioned from playmaking to formal writing for fun. I directed my friends in that play. At recess and after school. It was terrible production. I fought with my best friend, Jill, but I learned a lot and decided to hold auditions the next time. Theatre puts listening at the forefront. I learned to listen and decode. To hear subtext and infer meanings unspoken. To play against the emotion of the scene- because I observed the ways my mother did that in real life.

Becoming a theatre artist was probably inevitable, because the Theatre is filled multi-hyphenates. I have never been able to choose one thing. Not one career. Not one artform. Not one passion. I am many things and I am still at the beginning of so many journeys yet to come.

Me, my sister and classmates in a student produced HS production of Little Shop of Horrors c.1998

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