On Sunday of this week, I “performed” for the first time in three years. Granted, I wasn’t on a stage but rather an upstairs room at Second City in Hollywood and wasn’t performing so much as playing improv games at an Improv 1 class, but to me, it was like going home. I spent the better part of my childhood performing in one way or another. I took dance classes and voice lessons, attended theater summer camps every summer, performed in community theater productions, and attended a performing arts high school.
It can be so easy as an adult to leave all that behind – to think of them as things that kids do but that you give up unless you become a professional. I did just that and in doing so, I somehow let myself leave a huge part of myself behind – in fact, it was the main part of me. Being a theater kid was how I defined myself for a huge part of my life, and upon becoming a teacher and an adult, I just let that live in the past. I tried to gained it back in grad school, studying educational theater, but even in that setting, I always clung more to my teacher identity; while those around me called themselves teaching artists, or just artists, I was always quick to insist I wasn’t a professional. I was “just” a teacher – I was going to help kids create art, tell their stories, but not my own.
Stepping back into a creative space on Sunday as myself – not as a teacher, not as “not an actor” – but as someone who once loved to perform (and was fairly good at it) and wanted to do it again was refreshing. I felt so *in* place – so myself in a different way. Not that being an educator and educational advocate isn’t me but it isn’t all of me.
Over the past few years, I realize I had forgotten the most important message of this organization we are founding – all girls and women have a voice worth amplifying. My only purpose in life isn’t just to help others tell their stories – it can simultaneously be to tell my own.
Despite really taking this class for me, I am so excited to see how it influences our evolving Girls Amplified 101 curriculum – I already have so many ideas about how to incorporate more theater games to build community and break down the barriers high schoolers often put up to keep themselves from feeling vulnerable or unsafe in the often brutal high school world to feel more comfortable and confident sharing in our group.
I also promise an update on our pilot program soon! I keep trying to put into words how the first few days have gone, but it is proving to be difficult. I will overcome this block soon and offer some tales of the amazing girls we have gathered!
Until then, remember, even if you’ve left your inner theater kid behind or never had one to begin with, you are still capable of changing hearts, minds, and our world with your stories!