Women and Wallace changed me.
Theater played second – or more accurately, third – fiddle throughout my child. You see, I attended the world’s most testosterone-driven grade school: if you didn’t play sports, your classmates would laugh at you, and the teachers would beat you up. (Okay, so that’s an exaggeration. Sports was the extracurricular activity, though – so much so that, over eight years, the school offered my class only one opportunity to perform in a play.) Academics and sports easily tied for number one on my important-things list, and I did both well.
And there was little ol’ theater . . . which I enjoyed but which was not as important as earning good grades or dominating on the soccer field. I enjoyed seeing shows and performing but only if the actors made me laugh or I made others laugh. Theater was a hobby: a fun time-out from life. Not much more; not much less.
And then I performed in Women and Wallace, in which Wallace’s relationships with girls throughout his youth are affected by his mom’s early death. (If you can’t tell, the show is a light-hearted comedy. Commedia dell’arte, some might say.) During rehearsals, I truly explored the complexities in human relationships and grew more as a person as I applied questions to my own life. These discoveries exploded in magnitude, though, during the production’s run. While the audience sat transfixed at each performance, I could feel – almost see – every person gain new insights into what “relationship,” “death” and “love” mean and could swear (but I won’t because I’m a good Catholic) that every person left the theater somehow changed than when s/he entered two hours earlier.
Theater suddenly became more than a hobby: not superficial or merely enjoyable, something with substance. Yes, it is a medium to entertain people (and hopefully it does), but it is also a channel to invite individuals and societies to question who and what they are and to grow from the experience. That is what I hope to share with audiences in each production and why theater matters.
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