A few months ago, I asked Y members “Wanna be in a show?” and confessed that after 12 years of professional work behind the scenes, I missed performing. So I answered “Yes!” and give AfterWork Theater Project a try.
Last weekend, I made my NYC debut in The Laramie Project on the 14th Street Y stage. I invited friends,family, and co-workers (even my boss!) to come watch. And it was amazing.
AfterWork’s mission is to provide working adults an opportunity to take the stage with the goal of fun, community, and creative self-expression. When I signed up in October, those were my only goals. I wanted to recapture the fun and magic of being a part of a show that I had enjoyed throughout childhood and college. I didn’t realize that as an adult, I would be gaining so much more from the experience.
First, as an adult, we get so few chances to really challenge ourselves. Doing this play, while balancing my full time job, was an enormous undertaking. Some days I would work for 8 hrs, have a half hour break, then rehearse for four hours, get home late- then wake up and do it again. Memorizing lines and complex blocking seemed harder for me than I remembered from high school. Many times I wondered, why I chose to do this?
However, participating in AfterWork was one of those experiences that reminds you, the greater the challenge, the greater the reward. I was able to physically, mentally, and emotionally challenge myself on every level. When opening night came, and I stood center stage in front of a packed house to deliver my big monologue, the feeling of pride and accomplishment that came over me was priceless- worth every second of hard work.
The second breakthrough for me was reconnecting with my creative side. We all possess this creative side, and are encouraged to nurture it growing up, but it is often abandoned in favor of other priorities in adulthood. When was the last time I had allowed myself to really play, explore, and experiment? As inhibitions faded during the rehearsal process, I felt myself growing emotionally. Exploring my characters, which ranged from a drug addict, to a young women discovering her destiny as a political activist, to a Mormon home school teacher, forced me to connect with myself, and my own dreams, demons, and challenges. I had forgotten that connecting with characters inevitably leads to connecting with yourself.
Finally, going in to the experience, I could never have imagined that the cast and creative team of this play would be so amazing. We were a diverse group of people in every way, including our ages, ethnicities, professions, and theater backgrounds. For many, this was their first play, or their first play in many, many years. When we committed to the play we also committed to each other, and I have never felt so close to a group of people, so quickly. I miss them already.
This fall, the 14th Street Y will be deepening our partnership with AfterWork Theater Project, and they will become of first Adult Theater Education Partner. We’ll be offering classes, new programs, and more opportunities to perform on our stage.
I just had a unique, fulfilling, and exhilarating experience. Next year, I hope you’ll join me!