Umbrella

I don’t like the rain. Mm, actually, let me rephrase that- I usually don’t like the rain. Every once in a while, when it’s not too cold or too heavy, I don’t mind it. I love the smell it leaves afterward, and I love seeing the grass grow greener and greener. I love rainbows, and puddles, and rain jackets. Still, I don’t love the feeling of heavy rain falling onto me. Over the past week, I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve been dealing with a very difficult scene assignment (I’m going somewhere with this, don’t worry). I’m still not going to tell you the full story, but today I thought I’d share bits and pieces of it.

My Freshman year of high school, I was involved with the drama club. There were four others, and over the course of the year we memorized and performed various skits for school assemblies and church services. This was really my first introduction to memorizing material quickly and then performing regularly. By my Sophomore year, however, my love for drama began to change. Instead of being excited by the performances, I began to dread them. I developed a very real sense of stage fright, and I found that my childhood stutter had returned full force whenever I would attempt to memorize lines. By the middle of the first semester of my Sophomore year, I had quit acting completely. It wasn’t until a little over a year later, when I auditioned for Les Mis, that I made my return.

There are still so many pieces of my childhood that I don’t want to write about yet, but one thing that you need to know to fully get this story is that, for about a year, I had a pretty bad stutter whenever I would have to read out loud. This fell around the same time as my parent’s separation, and while I didn’t realize it at the time, it was one of the ways my body was physically reacting to the change. My stutter went away eventually, but returned my Sophomore year of high school because I was starting to remember a lot of stuff that had happened during my childhood. Instead of being able to deal with it mentally, my body again went to a physical reaction. From then on, my stutter only returned when I would read something that triggered an emotional response in me and my body didn’t know how to handle it. This brings me to my acting class fall quarter.

Back in the fall, I had three scene assignments. They were all challenging in some shape or form, but the last one brought the return of my stutter. In talking it over with my teacher, I was able to pinpoint what it was that was triggering, and made it through the scene without too much difficulty. Then came advanced acting this quarter. Instead of spending the entire ten weeks working on scenes, we were only given one, which will be performed in a couple of days. When I first read through the script, there were a few things that jumped out at me that would eventually prove to be quite difficult. Luckily, I have a great scene partner who was willing to put up with many a rehearsal that led us nowhere. I knew I was having trouble wit the scene, but I couldn’t figure out why. There was a rehearsal where I literally did not stop crying the entire time, but I couldn’t understand what was happening. My scene partner, my friends, and my acting teacher all tried to help, but none of us could figure it out. It wasn’t until I noticed that I was stuttering in a rehearsal that I knew I needed to reach out to my mom.

I’d asked my mom for help with part of the scene a couple weeks earlier, but this time I sent her pictures of the entire script and asked her if she thought there was anything in it that might be triggering me. She sent back a couple paragraphs of an explanation, and suddenly everything made sense. I talked to some friends, and they came to my next rehearsal to help us through part of it. One friend in particular offered some much needed comic relief, and the other constantly reminded me to stop saying I couldn’t do something when I actually could. They both went above and beyond the call of a friend, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

I’m an actress, and I love acting. I love theatre for it’s challenges, but sometimes it can be a bit much. That’s when I know I need my people to help cover the hard stuff for a moment so I can see the beauty in it again. We all need people to be our umbrellas sometimes. Every once in a while, you need an umbrella to distract you from the cold, wet drops of water and remind you of the beauty in puddles, green grass, and rainbows. I am really lucky to have many an umbrella in my life, and I hope you do too. To all my umbrellas, I hope you know that I am here if you ever need something. Thank you for all that you do.