Growing up in East Texas didn’t give me the opportunity to attend a lot of theatre performances. My teachers from elementary, jr. high, and high school all provided opportunities, however, to experience “the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd”. My acting debut was as a sunflower in an elementary school play. I still remember the green jump suit my mother had someone make for my costume. It was from a clown costume pattern and represented the stem of the flower. The petals were made from a large piece of cardboard which was painted with yellow petals with a space for my face to protrude from the center. My mother dotted my face with brown “freckles” to complete the look. I thought it was spectacular, and I was hooked!
As I enter a new venture almost 50 years later, I reflect on the incredible impact theatre has had on my life. I’ve experienced productions as a spectator, actor, crew member, director, clinician, adjudicator, and parent of a cast and/or crew member. I’ve taken journeys to places, events, and time periods that one can only do through the power of imagination. I’ve been captivated by characters that have made me laugh, cry, and think. I’ve had the privilege to teach and direct remarkable young people who have also taught and continue to teach me every day. I’ve been blessed to work with theatre educators who inspire, enlighten, entertain, and amaze with their resourcefulness, talent, dedication, and work ethic. I love what I do, and continue to be hooked!
Admittedly, there are days that are difficult. Theatre teachers work long hours, sometimes feel unappreciated, and make sacrifices in our pursuit of innovative and inspiring storytelling. Whenever we create the magic we know as theatre, it’s important to remember that things like green jumpsuits, cardboard petal cut-outs, and brown eyebrow pencils may open a new world to a student who is searching for that place where they belong. A theatre teacher’s influence, passion, and encouraging words plant the seeds each day that continue to grow long after students leave the classroom. For me, it all started with a sunflower.