Measure in Love.

23 Jul

Musical Theatre has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember;

I started acting out the Wizard of Oz word for word from age 2;

I was acting in school plays by age 6;

I went to drama camp as a pre-teen and then became a drama counselor, then improv teacher than show director with the same program.

I am now their director of performing arts.

I have taught theatre to students from 3-18 and I am reminded, constantly, of what a gift it is to my life and to all people.

Being able to get up on stage, to speak proudly, to articulate, to project and to feel confidence in one’s voice is invaluable, and is something that I try to instill at a very young age.

Teaching drama affords me with the ability to teach life lessons almost every day.

For instance, last week while teaching Wicked a young girl asked why a man could possibly fall in love with a girl who is green.

This was like my dream come true; She handed me the bait and I took it and ran. I was able to teach to a class of young girls a lesson about tolerance, equality, self-love, and looking at people for who they are on the inside, and not judging by one’s looks.

But my students also teach me, as well.

They teach me every single day.

Today, as we rehearsed for a showcase performance that I will be directing on Friday, we go to talking about silly things like baby names and crazy costumes and the future.

I asked, “What do you guys want to be when you grow up?”

Without hesitation, one girl raised her hand and said, “A good person.”

***

This past year has been trying to say the least. We have had surgeries and sickness, break-ups and breakdowns, floods, fire engines and a lot of fear.

I think about this a lot–how hard this year has been–and sometimes I ask the universe “Why?”

It seems like so much for one family to handle. And the hard things keep piling on.

But yesterday something hit me. Something profound.

For our showcase on Friday, I am teaching my students Seasons of Love from my beloved Rent.

Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Moments So Dear

Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

How do you measure, measure a year?

Measure in love.

And I got to thinking that despite all of the sadness and pain of the past 12 months, if I were to measure the time in love, then this year was my very best. I was carried, literally and figuratively, by friends who became family. I saw just how lucky I am to have been born into the tribe that I call mine. I have not just one, but a whole list of people whom I could call at any time, day or night, who would come running to me. That’s love. That’s a lot of love.

Almost immeasurable love, I would say.

***

Drama class isn’t always filled with deep moments. It is silly and quirky and zany and fun. We play improvisation games where we flail ourselves around the stage and say things like “Zip, Zap, Zop”. We guess each others’ histories with “Two Truths and a Lie”. We overcome stage fright and self doubt. We bond. And, like today, we sometimes do really weird stuff…

as in there was a moment this afternoon during my teaching that I brought up that my feet a) do not smell at all and b) are not ticklish. My students did not believe me. I happened to have been wearing sneakers with no socks. I took off my shoe and offered it to their little noses. One brave student took a whiff. Nothing. She couldn’t believe it. She handed it to the next girl. Their jaws dropped.

“See!” I said. “My feet don’t smell at all!”

And then I let them tickle my feet for further proof.

And this stuff is weird stuff! But it’s part of being in theatre.

Theatre is family.

***

Yesterday, I had my students write their own monologues. They have had extensive experience performing real monologues by this point, so I thought it would be a great exercise to have them write their own. I told them it could be about anything that they wanted.

One of my students, a returning camper, wrote her monologue about how two weeks ago she would never have had the confidence to step up on stage, but because of our class she now feels like she can do anything. If that isn’t success, than I don’t know what is.

That is love. If I were to measure it, I would say that’s a whole darn lot.

***

I think about the question I asked today to my kids, about what they would like to be when they grew up. And I realize now that I am doing exactly what I always dreamed of. I am writing and directing shows, I am teaching kids about musical theatre and I am giving them confidence and life lessons.

And I am being a good person, just like that little girl said.

And I am being surrounded by the best people.

How do you measure, measure a year?

Measure in love.

And I feel that love. I feel it every day.

You might even say that this summer is a Season of it.

And there is no acting about it. None at all.

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