I got a surprise in my email box today: an email about the 15th anniversary of my high school theater department, Santa Margarita High School’s Talon Theater. I owed SMHS theater department a lot of who I am today.
It’s not to anyone surprise that I am a product of high school drama club. But what you didn’t know is that I didn’t want to get into it in the first place.
Remember how we discussed me being self conscious? Imagine being 16, transferring to a white bread OC private school for your junior year from another country, knowing no one in the school except for your host mom, the counselor. Imagine having your head filled with sterotypical images of mean, white kids on a FES (that’s Foreign Exchange Student) who would pick on you, make fun of you, and look down on you.
And what did your host mom/counselor do? She enrolled you in drama.
Boy, I could never ever thank Bonnie enough for having done that! She believed that drama would help me with my English a little bit, give me confidence, and hopefully get me involved in an activity that is pretty much open to anyone. And it did.
In drama class, everyone gets to be “silly”, and no one cares. I felt accepted for who I was no matter what I did or said in the class. That was what helped me with my adapting to American life the most. It’s okay to be silly and different. Eventually, I also found theater to be yet another outlet for my creativity and self expression.
I started off slowly. I sat toward the back, and didn’t participated much unless called on. I met with Mr. Nowlin before school started, so he knew to ease me into class. I joined the crew of their fall production, quietly going about building the sets, and observing the other drama kids.
Slowly but surely, theatre coax Oakley out of her shell, in class and in life.
Next thing you know, there I was on stage, not behind it. As Dr. Emmett in John Patrick’s “The Curious Savage”, my role was small but I got to deliver a line in the one of the most poignant moments of the play. Then I was running with 2 casts for a children’s musical, “The Great Ghost Chase” as Suzie the Thief in one cast, and a zombie and the title Ghost in the other. (Oh both Suzie the Theif and the Zombie were mental patient…figured.)
My last, and most memorable role–and my personal favorite–was Woodstock in Snoopy! the musical. I had no lines, and I was pretty much the only one who went in auditioning for the role. No lines. Just mime. It was a lot harder than roles with lines, I can tell you that. And the most fun! We also got to tour local catholic schools as this was our children’s musical production.
I had a blast, tagging along the drama group even though I wasn’t really accepted into the main gang. But hey, being a part of something is better than not at all! Without being a part of the dramatic experience of the Talon Theater, I don’t think I would ever came out of that quiet shell.
And you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now…
As one that was in the “main gang” of the drama group – I thought Oakley was absolutely accepted! Perhaps she wasn’t starring but few were. She was constantly positive, and a joy to be around. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been for her, but just goes to show why we should NOT cut Arts funding from schools – what a difference this made for you! Go Oakley! – Cathy Carey