On Joining the Dorman Theatre Department
Editor’s Note: Originally published on September 23, 2018 on the school newspaper’s website. Additional information has been added.
For the last 2 years, I have had many of my friends try to convince me to join theatre. My sister, LeAnna Hawkins, had been in various productions at this point, from Annie the Musical to Death by Dessert. The first show I had actually attended during her time as a member of the Dorman Theatre Department was Shrek the Musical. I absolutely loved it and from there my love of theatre began.
It was small at first. I ended that year with attending the Cavvies, an event where all of those that participated in theatre danced and gave awards and had fun and announced what shows would be performed the following year. I swore at this event that I would force myself to do something in a show; I swore that I was going to push myself out of my comfort zone.
That next year I began requesting to review shows for the school newspaper and sometimes I was even allowed backstage to interview the cast and crew when they weren’t busy.
From that outsider’s perspective, I knew it was something I would never be able to do. I am not the most open person and I knew there was no way I would be able to perform like all of these talented individuals did onstage. I had participated in first annual Dorman’s Got Talent in my freshman year, but performing a poem is completely different than acting like a completely different person. And the crew were so skilled and made everything happen. I couldn’t do that!
First semester my junior year, I had to take care of my fine art credit. I did so with a split class that had Theatre I occupying the first quarter and Technical Theatre I occupying the second quarter. This gave me a lot of the insight and experience needed to elevate my show reviews and deepen my appreciation of the art form. I began to notice all of the technical aspects of the shows I watched.
Through my junior year I went on Theatre I field trips to see shows at colleges and I attended showcases of stories that the students had brought to life themselves. My favorite shows from this year included A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in the original Shakespearean language, and the one act, To Destroy You Is No Loss.
At this point in my story I would like to thank Mrs. Haloulos. If it weren’t for her class, maybe I would not have become one step closer to actually getting directly involved in the Dorman Theatre Department. At first I dread her class, as it would be one I would have to speak a lot in front of people in, but that dread soon evaporated. It was interesting and engaging and challenging. If you still need your art credit, I highly recommend going out on a limb and taking her class on the main campus. I just wish I would have taken a theatre class earlier, like those who got involved in Mrs. Dawkins’ class at the freshman campus or even before high school.
I would also like to thank Mrs. Wren for all of the opportunities I was given. She didn’t have to allow me backstage but I am definitely blessed for all of the things I got to witness before even becoming involved. I was still on the outside but I had many friends back there who were (and are still) DTD mainstays.
My junior year ended with the Cavvies once again. This time around I knew a lot more people and felt much more comfortable in that kind of atmosphere. And once again the Cavvies ended with a promise to myself, I will actually put forth the initiative to get involved in a DTD production. I finally auditioned for Rumpelstiltskin, the season opener, but I doubted I would even be able to make it into the final cast. Even on the day of auditions, I contemplated just riding my bus home and not even auditioning in the first place.
Who knows if I would have ever actually went through with it if not for Carley Ballard, the first student I will be thanking. Towards the end of summer she asked me if I wanted to be a part of the summer camp’s musical, Honk Jr., as a member of the running crew. I really didn’t have much else to do for the rest of the summer until Rumpel rehearsals began (some twist of fate actually allowed me to get a spot in the show).
I agreed, having no idea what I was putting myself into. What I ended up diving into was one of the most stressful experiences of my high school career thus far. One of my best friends, Ian Martin, was also on the running crew and I had a good amount of friends in the cast but I still was not quite used to this. I was used to watching everyone hurry and listen for their cues. I was not used to being the one listening for particular lines or scenes so that I would be ready. The running crew kept failing to do scene changes exactly as we were supposed to and I went home tired and stressed, especially when I began having back to back Rumpel and Honk rehearsals all day, every day.
In the end, we did it. We became an amazing crew and we got to be a part of a pretty great production. This was my first theatre show as a member of the crew, and next up would be my acting debut, Rumpel.
Rumpelstiltskin was not easy. It was frustrating. Certain scenes and blocking I had to do made me anxious. As before, I believed there was no way I could possibly do this. Though, that’s how I felt as a member of Honk‘s crew. The best illustration of my crappiness is probably my attempts at off-beat marching when we first began working on our blocking for the show. As Soldier 1, I had to march on stage in Act 1, Scene 4 with 4 other soldiers. I failed completely. If I can’t even march correctly, how am I supposed to act?
With time and help, I was able to get my blocking down and move on. This was not the end of the difficulty.
Flash forward to the day I am writing this, September 22, 2018, the show has ended. Our last day of shows was emotional. We have performed this show a total of 8 times, not counting our rehearsals. We have gotten the chance to hear people laugh at this comedy we brought to life 8 times. I have marched, most of the time on beat with everyone else, 8 times. I have been a scary ogre 8 times and I have saved Lady Sigrid 8 times.
This production ending was surreal. It was something that so many weeks of preparation had come to. I am honestly glad that I auditioned that day, and I am a much better person because of this show. I definitely would like to thank all of the friends who recommended new musicals to listen to or tirelessly attempted to convince me to become a theatre kid. Now, after going on fields trips and attending events and taking classes and reviewing shows and everything else that led to this point, I definitely say that I am a theatre kid.
The last person I would like to thank is Ms. Smith. This was her first show as director, as well as my first show as an actor. Thank you for putting up with us, even when we totally deserved every single push up we had to do. Thank you for allowing us to hear their laughs and be able to put a amazing show for them. Thank you for your patience with us even when we forgot our cues (or our helmets, in my case). I have no idea why I was chosen to be a part of your cast, but I am immensely grateful for it. Through this show I learned a lot and made so many new friends. Thank you for helping me grow beyond my comfort zone.
If you are even thinking about getting involved in theatre, just do it. It is truly a family. A dysfunctional family that doesn’t always get along, but a family nonetheless. You don’t know what exactly you are signing up for but I am sure you won’t regret it. The only regret I have is not getting involved prior to my senior year. I can’t even imagine how seniors that have been involved in this family for years feel like. With this just being my first main season show, I was emotional with its end. It was so hard not to cry at the circle we form before each show, as this was the final time we got to perform this. I was very close to crying as a cast member told us that we are the closest thing he has had to a second family, and then when my stage manager told us that she honestly didn’t know who she was before getting involved in this department.
These experiences have taught me how to work with others. It has taught me discipline and timeliness. It has taught to have fun and not be afraid to live loud a little.
Thank you for those who were involved in this. If you wish to get involved in the Dorman Theatre Department, be on the lookout for auditions for future productions, take a theatre course, or contact any of the theatre directors I mentioned here for more information.
Be sure to come out and support our production of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, directed by Mrs. Dawkins. This will be Ian’s acting debut and I will be a member of the running crew.
UPDATE: Little Women was a success and I have gotten into our Marvel one acts as Heimdall. I am excited for the rest of this theatre season.