Best lesson: A theatre experience built character and confidence despite some unplanned off-stage drama

Best lesson: A theatre experience built character and confidence despite some unplanned off-stage drama

This junior reporter was thrilled when she was given a part in the school play. But the role presented a bigger challenge than she’d expected

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Chloe celebrating with her parents after the show.
Photo: Teresa Kwok

One week ago, I experienced one of the best moments of my life. I was standing on a stage, dressed in a beautiful costume, singing and dancing my heart out. Out in the audience sat my friends and family, clapping and cheering as loud as they could. I was a cast member in my school’s annual drama production, and I felt like I was living my best life.

But the journey to that moment was far from easy. It came with a lot of pain and tears, but most importantly, a valuable lesson.

From the moment the school year started, I was impatient for the new drama season to begin. It was the second year I had signed up to be in the school play; and as I’d had so much fun the year before, I was sure this year would be the same. I was given three roles: a surveyor (a person whose job is to measure and record the details of areas of land), an ordinary citizen, and a businesswoman. I was thrilled, and began rehearsing straight away.

That’s when things started to go downhill. I had no idea what kind of personality a land surveyor from a big company should have. At first, I stuck with my own cheerful personality, but it wasn’t suitable for my character; my actions were too exaggerated and seemed immature. I then tried going for a more subdued, meek personality, but I was told my gestures were too small and I didn’t use enough facial expressions.

At this point, I started to feel discouraged, and with wave after wave of exams, I had no time to work on my character. Meanwhile, everyone around me was improving.

Suddenly, there was only one month to go before the opening night. I started to worry about my character. I felt caged and tense on the stage. My character’s timid personality was restricting my acting, so I changed to a more open, friendly one. But that was no good, either: the surveyor was supposed to look down on the townspeople, not be nice to them.

I started to feel disheartened. It seemed as if nothing suited my character. I asked my cast-mates for advice, but they all had differing ideas and opinions. I tried all of them, but was met with criticism every time. For weeks I showed up at rehearsals full of hope and optimism, only to run home afterwards with tears streaming down my cheeks. I felt like a disappointment. My confidence was shattered.

Two weeks before the run of seven shows began, my parents found me sobbing at home.

“You aren’t just going to give up, are you?” they asked. “You shouldn’t stop just because you failed. There’s still time. Believe in yourself. We know you can do it!”

I felt my hopes lifting. My parents were right. Why should I give up something I loved just because others thought I couldn’t do it? Just because it was difficult? Determinedly, I wiped my tears, and started again.

The rehearsals were still tough, but my new attitude really helped. Bit by bit, I began to improve. There were no more looks of disapproval from others, and I finally felt comfortable and confident on stage.

Even after the show began, I continued to get better with each performance. On the final night, I gave my very best performance. But just as I was beginning to enjoy the whole process, it was all over.

Although my theatre journey this year wasn’t as smooth as last year’s, I’m grateful that it happened. I may not have given an outstanding performance, but I’m still proud of myself. The experience taught me to believe in myself, and that it’s never too late to change.

Most importantly, it taught me that failing is not the end of the world, and that trying and failing is better than giving up. I believe we should all embrace failure instead of fearing it. In the end, it will lead you to success.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge


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This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
A lesson in character building

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