We began our second production of the year six weeks ago. My co-directors and I sat around a table in the music room, reading over character bios and debating who is a better fit where. Our jaws were already dropped at the talent brought to the table and couldn’t fathom how it could get any better.
And then it did.
In six short weeks, my students, led by an incredible staff, transformed an empty stage into the African pride lands and metal scaffolding into the iconic pride rock. From Zulu pronunciation pages to tribal paint and moving giraffe, the transfiguration was nothing short of astounding. We spent every school night from auditions to bows running lines, tweaking songs, and learning how to embrace the circle of life. Thankfully, we’ll be reliving the great experiences shared this spring when we attend the Junior Theatre Festival in January, but as I close the door on the spring 2015 show experience, I’ve come to a distinct realization.
Within this show, I rediscovered myself.
That sounds so dramatic.
My work mom asked me if I felt grounded or disconnected after the show, and I think I feel more grounded than I have in a while. Just as my orientation job during college had given me, the role of co-director provided me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself again: to work toward something with a group of people who genuinely love being there as much as I do, to challenge myself, and to have unadulterated fun.
Now, I’ll openly admit that I neglected all other aspects of life (including people..) while the African savanna was on my mind, and clearly, complete and utter submersion isn’t the way to go. I mean, Mufasa said it best: everything exists in a delicate balance, and you need to understand and respect that balance. Having said so, I love how this gave me something to commit to and take pride in. I felt and still feel like I’m a part of something, and as someone who consistently struggles with understanding and accepting her place in life, that’s a big deal. Within the confines of my classroom, I know and embrace my role, and the position of director only exemplified that. Soon, the fifteen seventh grade play babies I had started out acknowledging became the fifty-one member cast that ultimately won my heart.