The Mystical Power of Amateur Theatre
By Eric Dahlinger
So over the last two months I have been volunteering my time and skills to choreograph a high school musical. It was Fiddler on the Roof, one of the greatest pieces of musical theatre ever created, and therefore one of the hardest. It’s almost three hours long with many dance numbers, a challenging score, and a book with the emotional range of a Shakespeare tragedy. It was a true undertaking. There were moments I really wanted to pull my hair out… actually most of the time I wanted to pull my hair out, but in the end the graduation glasses came on and it was all worth it.
As I said, there were times I wanted to rip out my hair, throw chairs, and use the absolute worst and most harmful words I could think of. At one point I was going to write a blog about failing because I didn’t see it working out. Dealing with amateurs can be tough when you are so used to dealing with people who are at a professional level. Amateurs often like to talk over you, they don’t practise their choreography enough, and they are often intimidated to put it all out there at first. I left many of rehearsals asking my self ‘why am I doing this?’ but I am glad I did.
Watching these kids on there final night was magical, there was so much love and fun happening on that stage you couldn’t help but smile. Seeing kids struggle the whole rehearsal period finally get it, seeing every thing click into position was amazing. In the English Encarta dictionary amateur as two very different definitions…
- Somebody doing something for pleasure
- An unskilled person
Throughout the whole rehearsal period I would definitely say definition two was the true meaning… but on the final night I truly changed my mind. These kids were having the time of their lives. And how does one become skilled, they train as an amateur. And after the show seeing the friendships that had developed made my heart sing (I know this blog is gag worthy) because working towards a common goal brings people together (this must be why people play sports). I also was transported back to my amateur days, when I was finding my self and my place in the world. Still, my favourite time in my life was doing amateur theatre when I was 16-17 years old. As amazing as the professional productions I have been in have been, nothing captures the magic I felt in 2010 playing Angel in Theatre Aquarius’s Performing Arts Programme’s production of Rent, working with my best friends (who I still see today, 6 years later) and a supportive creative team who truly challenged us. I can not reiterate enough, something really magical happened on that stage on Saturday that out weighs all the challenges that happened along the way. I truly hope that all of the kids are proud of themselves and each other, and I sincerely hope that this experience stays with them for the rest of their lives.