Today is World Theatre Day and I thought I do a little post on the massive impact this beautiful art form has had on my life.
A quick history… World Theatre Day started in 1961 and is run by the The International Theatre Institute (ITI). The intension was to promote a culture of theatre and peace. Specifically, the goals of the day is
To promote theatre in all its forms across the world.
To make people aware of the value of theatre in all its forms.
To enjoy theatre in all its forms for its own sake.
To share the joy for theatre with others.
To take you all the way back… My high school never had drama as a formal subject until I was in Grade 10. I signed up IMMEDIATELY. I had always been in love with the performing arts and this was a golden opportunity I grabbed with both hands. Looking back now, those classes were some of the highlights of my schooling career, and I do have to thank my drama teacher, Ms Grobler, for sharing her love for the theatre with me, and for inspiring and motivating me to pursue a career in the arts.
After high school, I went on to study theatre and performance at the University of Cape Town (UCT) drama school, which turned out to be some of the toughest and best years of my life (I make it sound like I’m 100 years old, I’m only in my 20’s for god sake).
Studying theatre was hard. When the rest of the university was going back home or to res after the day’s classes, the theatre students were up and rehearsing until super late at night. Sometimes until 11 or 12. And doing it all over again the next day, and on the weekend, and public holiday. I’m sometimes a very lazy person. But theatre taught me the value of discipline, of committing yourself to something, of doing a thing over and over and over again until you get it right, and then doing it again.
I spoke about this briefly in DAY 9: HUMANS but I do need to mention it again. Part of acting and performing is getting to know and understand people. Who they are. How they think. Their experiences. Their traumas. Their loves. Their losses. Their joys. And in playing characters and deepening your understanding of people, for me, comes a wonderful ability to self-reflect and understand your own life and your own experiences and loves and losses and joys.
I’m generally a very private, intimate person, and struggled with self-esteem for most of my life. So, growing up, it was always difficult to speak in public or to voice my opinion. But performing gave me a bravery and confidence in myself, in my ability to talk to people, in being able to tell stories. Out loud. In public. And to come out publicly as a transgender woman.
I’ve been so lucky to have worked with some amazing directors, stage managers, writers, and tech crew over the years, and have shared the stage with some of the most daring, creative people I have ever met. To those I’ve worked with, Thank you.
It’s incredible just how much theatre has shaped my life; I could write a book about it all. Watching a live performance is a truly magical experience. There are so few mediums that can move you in the way that good theatre can, and it’s a craft and industry I appreciate immensely. And I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else.
And without theatre, I don’t think I would be here, openly sharing these intimate bits of my life with you.
So, go see a show! Be moved!
And love theatre!