The cast of "Arsenic and Old Lace."
The curtain call comes on Sunday with thunderous applause and a standing ovation. I watch all of this with tears in my eyes as we draw the show to a close. I want to thank the hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of students, faculty, community, parents and folks who simply saw it advertised and decided to come on in! From my lovely cast to you, thank you so much.
On opening night, as in all opening nights, I gather the cast to read Emily Dickinson’s poem, “That it will never come again is what makes life the sweetest.” I tell them to look around and live in the moment of the night…each night. I also tell them how theatre is a dance with the audience, and our job is to make the music for the dance. After the Saturday night show, one cast member said to me, “PH, you are right, it is a dance.” I just had to smile.
I promise you I will move on to small business shopping and Thanksgiving next week, but as I sit writing, how can I not wrap up the fall theatre season? The cast party was here on Sunday night, and I sit amidst pizza boxes and pop cans with chairs strewn about. I don’t like my house in a disarray, but there is something magical about the remains of the party and the echoes of their voices and laughter that keeps the mess about me for a short time.
I am, of course, referring to my theatre group, but this pertains to all we do. I think, as responsible adults, it is up to us to share our talents with the young people around us. Many of you are involved in the arts, I know. But I think lots of you are completely committed to sports (yes, I am committed to Jonah’s hockey and Graham’s sports) and I applaud that as well as the arts. It doesn’t really matter if we are engaged with their activities as parents, as grandparents, and as leaders.
I would like to share a few of the reasons we need to encourage and support our young people with a few stories between the lines. I, of course, will use the theatre as examples, but it could be anything! Let’s look at discovering new possibilities. I have a couple of freshmen students in my theatre of which both did not know how much they would love it. In fact, one said last night at the cast party, “Now, what do I do every night? I will miss this so much.” He is not alone in his sentiments. How fun it is to introduce students to a life-long activity. Another graduating cast member said, “I know I will join community theatre no matter where I live.” That just makes me smile.
There are many pieces of data that show students with outside activities actually do better in school. They love looking forward to another activity at the end of the day. This also leads to time management which is definitely a skill that is learned. Finding groups for students is no different than finding groups for us as adults. We all like to hang out with friends on the weekends, and students are no different. Whereas, I do believe in having lots of friend groups, I know that the core to this is having the close-knit group who will always be there. My theatre students fall under that category. They embrace the new recruits, hold fast to the already established friendships, and are willing to pass it on when they leave. I love finding my own tribe, and so do students.
Besides friendships and having something wonderful to do, being part of a group gives us confidence that carries on for students into adulthood.
Maybe I have encouraged some of you to even look into new hobbies or groups for yourself. I hope so.
So, the time has come to go back and clean the stage and back room of the T. Furth Center for the Performing Arts. The time has come to hang another autographed cast photo to my studio wall. (Thank you, Jacob, for making that happen!)
The time has come to wash costumes and put my house back together with a sigh. The time has come to pick up where I left off in early September…if I can even remember life before rehearsals.
The time has come to thank you one more time.