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A Dabbler’s Path Always Changes

October 20, 2011

There’s a video of myself as a child [about 3] sitting in a kiddie pool in my back yard telling my father where to put the camera, instructing my brother just WHEN he would be allowed to enter the swimming pool, and chastising my mother for blocking my face from the camera when she’s trying to get my swimsuit to fit properly.  Despite my unruly actor, annoyingly persistent wardrobe, and frustrating Director of Photography I clearly labeled my elaborate swimming pool scene a success [and couldn’t figure out what everyone was giggling at – I was trying to direct art!]

I grew up in a very arts-orientated family: a director for a father, a hobby-costumer for a mother, a concert pianist for an uncle, a singer for a cousin… a computer engineer for a brother?  I was luckily blessed to have the type of family that didn’t even question the plausibility of a career in the arts.  I started off dreaming about being a cartoon artist for Disney, and even spent a summer at camp there.  Somewhere around 4th or 5th grade, I grew frustrated with my visual art ability because I could never draw on paper what I saw on my head.  That’s when I began writing to unleash my creativity.  First with a comic strip, then with a weekly “magic” newspaper, I began some shallow chapters of novels, and some scribbles of poetry.

I was a dancer and gymnast since I was 2, and always liked the movie musicals that frequented the TV.  While still in grade school, I had the BRILLIANT idea to write a musical called The Thieves Hideout which was a weird combination of Annie, Oliver, and Labyrinth.  Not only write, but hold rehearsals [and yes, the cast did include my grandfather as the evil orphanage owner].  Rehearsals were held in my back yard.  When a grade school friend missed my next rehearsal, and my “thoughtless” mother decided it best if she skip rehearsal and attend the job that supported my family, fickle me dropped the project.  I’ve never been patient with cast conflicts.

Middle School locked in the deal for me – I wanted to be an actress!  I ditched my time-consuming gymnastics training and piano lessons, exchanging for a competitive dance program.  I was cast in the school’s musical Oklahoma! and had fun with being in the ensemble and my “Farmer and the Cowman” solo.  In 7th grade I was cast as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, where I learned sign language and received my first [and I believe my last] press article commenting about my glowing performance.  That particular night, as notated in the article, was the night I received a concussion on stage during the “egg scene” when Annie accidentally hit me full force with the pitcher, causing the audience to gasp as I collapsed on stage.  That will always be a family favorite story – the only black eye I’ve ever had.  [I even think some videos of this were pulled out to my unsuspecting wedding party by a family friend – oh lord!]

High School I continued as the actress, while working with the literary magazine with my poetry, and always working on novels when I wasn’t at dance, play practice, or tennis.  It was then that I also choreographed for the musicals my father directed, proud moments include choreographing Bye, Bye, Birdie for upwards of 70 Middle Schoolers.  I also started singing lessons.

The athletic stress I was putting on my body caught up to me as a gymnastics injury made it continuously difficult to dance.   A series of oral surgeries changed my singing voice drastically.  This dancer first, singer second, and actor last was being forced to flip flop.  Regardless, I knew I belonged in showbiz, and acting was all I knew.  With the help of an amazing high school counselor [who, unlike many, supported my disregard for the full-scholarships I was offered for the chance to follow my dream] I applied to New York schools and landed at Hofstra University.

One year of schooling and an internship where I was told “you’re not an actor, you’re a stage manager – you’re too good at this not to do it” changed my life, I had finally realized that I could do other things within the theatre.  When a play I wrote was rejected from a festival simply because “I already had participated in past festivals,” I asked for a private space from the faculty and put up the show myself.  My first endeavor as a producer. I graduated with a BFA in Theatre Arts and by the time of graduation I had shifted my concentration from acting to stage management and playwriting.

I continue to write.  I continue to produce.  I continue to stage manage.  I even occasionally direct.  I no longer act, dance, or sing.  At least not in public. And yes, I occasionally miss dancing and singing.  For some odd reason, I don’t really miss acting – perhaps it was never meant to be.  I’m a Dabbler, a Bard, a Jack-Of-All-Trades-Master-Of-None.  My path always changes, my life’s journey continues, but my life will always be full Theatre and Film.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 21, 2011 11:19 pm

    It’s great that you love theatre so much! You are right, there are so many facets of it that are rewarding, not just the acting!

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