My Adventures In Theatre Land
Though I have now lost count of the number of times that I have tried to leave the orbit of the theatre, something always seems to drag me back. Ever since I, as a pre-teen, emerged entranced from my very first Broadway show, nothing has ever quite managed to eclipse my passion for it, nor has any supposed change in priorities kept it from taking center stage in my life.
My first forays into the art form were as an actress, which initially seemed like a bit of an odd choice. I’d been diagnosed with sensory integration disorder when I was three and Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism when I was nine. And though I now seem to have mastered appearing mostly normal most of the time, I was a much more obvious odd one out in childhood. Records from my elementary and middle school years describe an endless string of social difficulties and an ensuing shyness, as I withdrew from people almost entirely to spare myself the pain of not fitting in.
Theatre folk, however, tend to be an unusually accepting lot. Once I was comfortable enough to power past my outsize nerves, I displayed a particular aptitude for acting, which makes some counterintuitive sense. After all, I’d already been trying to “act” neurotypical for my entire life!
The sense of purpose I found in performing and the friends I made in rehearsal served as a much-needed point of stability during my otherwise tumultuous high school years. But by graduation, I had shifted my focus to the somewhat more introvert-friendly craft of playwriting, which I first pursued as a Dramatic Writing major at NYU Tisch, though I only lasted as a student there for
about a year and a half (long story).
Instead, I ended up finishing my degree in Psychology and Writing at Florida Atlantic University. Then, I obtained my MFA in the slightly-more-sensible-seeming Creative Nonfiction, only to end up writing a book-length memoir about my formative adventures in theatre as my thesis project. Guess I wasn’t going to get away that easy! Since moving back to South Florida after grad school, I was thus inspired to start reviewing local theatrical productions, which I was doing reasonably regularly on my blog until the COVID crisis dramatically reduced the number of shows there were to write about.
However, the pandemic did also provide an unexpected path from my then-place as a mere observer in the area’s theatre scene to a participant. I got involved as both actress and playwright in a variety of digital theatre goings-on. As unprecedented turmoil enveloped the outside world, having an artistic outlet and staying connected to fellow creatives felt more critical than ever!
I was super excited when I was approached to write for South Florida Theatre Magazine— both by the prospect of being able to reach more people with my theatrical musings and by the hope that having a space to share ideas will help foster more of a sense of…well, the community amongst our theatre community.
Honestly, I didn’t exactly intend on setting down roots here as opposed to in a metropolis with a more prominent theatre scene. But the more time I’ve spent exploring South Florida’s weird little corner of the theatreverse, the more I’ve fallen in love with it. It turns out that you don’t need to head to NYC for incredible production values, exceptional performances, and innovative, challenging new work. There’s plenty of all that right in our backyard!
Which is precisely as it should be. Though it seems that much of my generation is quite content to vegetate in front of their Netflix screens, I, for one, still believe in the importance of gathering in-person to see in-the-flesh actors putting their whole souls into telling stories and of sitting side-by-side with strangers as we share the experience of watching those stories unfold. Theatre, at its best, can touch our hearts and broaden our perspectives far more memorably than might a similar scene broadcast over a flat-screen—and sometimes it can just be a whole lot more fun!
So, along with continuing to share my thoughts on area productions as they begin to spring back up over in the review section, I’ll be here reflecting on theatre-and-such from my unique perspective and keeping ya’ll updated on whatever adventures I end up on next!