Last week I had the rare opportunity to perform for my favorite people on earth: Teachers.
And not just any teachers.
Teachers of the Arts.
The Tennessee Arts Academy held their annual week-long conference at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and Tennessee Shakespeare Company was invited as guest performers preceding a talk given by Christopher Durang.
After reading that last sentence, some of you may understand why I was so freaking excited to go to this conference. For those of you who aren't familiar with his work, Christopher Durang is a modern playwright, most well-known for his play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
I first got to know Mr. Durang my second year of college at Union University. I was cast in my first one-act at it was An Actor's Nightmare by aforementioned playwright. I met my best friend Heather Nicholas through that show, shoved my face full of pudding on stage every night, and learned more about modern-American drama because of that play than I ever thought I'd know.
Fast forward several years and I'm on stage performing Speak What We Feel: Shakespeare's Radical Response to a Radical Time for hundreds of teachers, artists, and event workers. It's less than 45-minutes long, so it's over in a flash. It was well-received by the audience who gave us a standing ovation and beckoned us to take the stage for an encore bow. We were all elated. It was beyond anything we had expected and we were eager to talk about our experience.
But as soon as we get back into the dressing rooms and started packing up, I could hear the thumping of footsteps as a small group of people rushed down the backstage stairs to where we were. I assumed it was another group of performers who desperately needed the dressing rooms, so I haphazardly pile all of my clothes and shoes and makeup and waterbottle into my arms, rush out into the hallway, and run smackdab into our director, Dan McCleary's back. I can see he's talking to someone, so I crane my neck over his shoulder and who should I see:
(and his body guard, i assume).
THERE HE WAS!! RIGHT THERE!! This was the man who would pen the play that would give me my moment; the moment most people--especially artists--will experience when they know what trade they want to pursue. You know? That huge, "A ha! I know what my purpose is!" moment.
Here was the man that inspired a decision that would alter the course of my history forever...and I couldn't put two words together to thank him. So i stood there like a grinning, starry-eyed, child who just discovered that Santa Clause DOES exist but was too scared to speak for fear the magic would vanish.
And just now, almost a week later, I realize that every single teacher in that room could one day be someone's Moment. I didn't get a chance to shake all their hands and encourage them as they relentlessly push on, so I'd like to say "Thank you," now to you if you are a teacher. Thank you for everything that you do. Thank you for your patience and diligence and support.