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How Theatre Has Changed My Life

On becoming more outgoing and finding a community.

Little me in my cinderella dress and knight helmet! Photo credits to my mother, Betsy Trainor.

When I was younger, I would walk around everywhere in a Cinderella dress and a knight’s helmet, thinking that I looked incredibly mature. My mom and I were going to the grocery store? So was the costume. Time to pick my sibling up at school? Costume time. I guess it’s no wonder that theatre is such a major part of my life!

The first production I was ever in was my second-grade musical, in which I played one of Cinderella’s mice. I had one line and practiced it over and over again with my parents, thinking it was going to be the most important moment of my entire life. The line came and passed without flaw, and I was very proud of myself; especially when both my grandmothers handed me large bouquets of flowers.

In the fourth grade, I joined a theatre group at a dance academy called “Studio Blue” and worked with about 5 other girls to create what could be described as the worst play in the world; I swear it was so terrible. The play had been about a group of girls who were having a sleepover and were transported into a television, and I can remember being jealous of the girl who got to play the obnoxious, sassy girl of the group while I was the reserved, bookworm. Looking back upon it, I’m glad that I had this experience, because it helped me to learn that in the theatre world, you’re not always going to get the part that you think you deserve. You can’t let that disappointment distract you from doing your best with the role you were given, though I’m not sure any of us did a very good job pretending to be sucked into the cardboard box that we used for a television.

It was a while before I participated in another theatre-related event, and I really wish that this had not been the case. I have a muscle disability that throws off my balance and prevents me from playing on a sports team, and I know that my younger self would have appreciated being a part of a theatre group to replace the disappointment that I felt when all my friends joined the sports teams at our middle school.

My junior year, my best friend and I saw an ad on Instagram for auditions for an acting company. We wanted to do something fun and outgoing, so we practiced our Kit-Kat commercial lines and gave our auditions our best. Sadly, us two idiots had been fooled by this acting company that promised to make us famous if we gave them $10,000. Either way, the whole experience reminded me of how much I love to act.

I think that most of us have felt like we don’t belong at one point or another, and acting provides me with an escape from that feeling. When I act, I’m no longer the girl who walks funny, I’m the elderly woman whose hip replacement was faulty. I’m a snobby, British princess who needs to learn a lesson or two about kindness. I’m whoever I want to be.

This year, I auditioned for my high school’s production of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” and I was cast as Mary Bennett. Rehearsals have begun, and I love working with my cast members. We all have a lot of common interests and they feel like family to me. On stage and off, we have plenty of drama — I love belonging to this group of weirdos.

Theatre changed my life, because it helped me to learn that it’s okay to be different. My theatre teacher rolled around on the ground the first day of class, and it was hilarious. We all had to sing a few verses of a song, whether we were good or bad singers, and let me tell you, I am a horrific singer. Nevertheless, I got up in front of my whole class and belted out “Part of Your World,” unashamed, because theatre creates an environment in which everyone feels accepted.

Our quirks are what make us special and help us to develop realistic characters, and I have never felt more comfortable being myself. I encourage you to join your school’s theatre department or local community theatre group if you’re struggling to find were you belong in this world. I have been accepted with open arms and have already learned so much about courage and family. I wouldn’t trade my therds (theatre nerds) for the world!

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Written by Allison Trainor

Ally Trainor is a senior in high school, and she loves reading and writing. She is the president of the Slam Poetry Club at her school, and she is obsessed with the Broadway show “Hamilton.” She also loves to re-watch the Harry Potter movies and couldn’t ask for better friends. In the future, she hopes to become an author and is very excited to be a part of the Affinity team!