Here in Massachusetts I had occasion to get introduced to a nice lady, Evelyn, from the Cal State Fullerton theater program. I asked her about their MFA program that I had just learned about. She doesn’t know much about that program, but we talked about their education outreach tour, the Kaleidoscope group. They used to be great, but have gone down hill in the last decade. It’s the kind of project I would love to take on someday.
But then things got awesome. I started telling her how I first became interested in theatre. There was a group that came to my elementary school. It changed my outlook on the world. It was a transformational moment. I remember the voices, the actors, the costumes. Me sitting in the 5th row on the right of the cafeteria floor at Sierra Vista Elementary School. I’m looking at the stage, thinking WHAT are they doing!
Big gray angular blocks for a set. 8 actors all in grey sweats, except one in a white tee-shirt. They all started talking on top of each other: “The trouble with Nick is…” (that was the title of the show). It was a very early-nineties-after-school-special kind of show, about how your parents divorce isn’t your fault. That kind of thing. But it was theatrical, and stylized, and I loved it!
The memory of this show first came back to me when I was in my early undergrad trying to think about what it was that first turned me on to theatre.
It was the first time I realized that performing could be about more than just entertainment or being the center of attention. It could have a real meaning (even if it was a cheesy one). I think I was very lucky to realize that at such a young age. This was the power of theatre education on a young mind.
I told Evelyn about some of this today. She knows the director and she remembers the show! She will be sure to tell Lynn (her director friend) that across the country she met a 25 year-old theatre professional whose life was changed by that silly show.
There is a lot more I could say about theatre, and education, but in the interests of posting something for the first time in more than a month, I think I better just go with this.
Suffice it to say, I love theater education.