COVID-19 is a very destructive respiratory disease that has caused much pain and suffering for millions of people around the world. Although my heart grieves for all the lives lost, each of us has suffered in our own unique ways. For me, that suffering took the form of not getting an opportunity to play the lead in our spring drama, which was, so tragically, cancelled.
For years, I have been working toward this goal. As a freshman, I auditioned for the role of Laura in the Tennessee Williams famous American drama “The Glass Menagerie.” While I did not win the role, I find it very ironic that now, only three years later, we have all become aware that life is as precious as those fateful glass figurines due to COVID-19.
As a sophomore, my efforts to secure the role of the wrongly accused Desdemona in William Shakespeare’s important play “Othello” were, once again, thwarted. Our drama coach, Ms. Wilkie, told me during the audition process that sophomores would be considered for leading roles, but the parts of Othello, Iago, and Desdemona all went to upperclassmen, even though none of them had taken private acting classes, as I have, with Leonard Michaels (Broadway credits include “Company,” “Starlight Express,” “Pump Boys and Dinettes”), at the Willows Dramatic Academy for Young Performers.
This experience taught me that authority figures do not always have “the answers,” a lesson reinforced when Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a very respected medical adviser to many Presidents of the United States of America, said at first that masks should not be worn but then said that they should.
When discussing masks these days, it is impossible not to conjure in one’s mind images of the famous “Comedy and Tragedy” masks, which were worn in ancient Greece during the classical period, from approximately 500 to 300 B.C.
Junior year was a turning point for my high-school theatrical career. I auditioned to portray Abigail Williams in “The Crucible,” a play that on the surface purports to be about the Salem witch trials but is in fact a parable about McCarthyism, which was a terrible episode of American history that itself had a long-lasting impact on American history. Although I did not receive the part of Abigail Williams, I did play the pivotal role of Deputy Governor Danforth, who has several lines. Our school newspaper declared my presentation “dramatic” (review attached).
This year, my senior year, Ms. Wilkie said that we would be doing the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Our Town.” Never could I have foreseen that “our town” would be affected by the respiratory disease only a few short months later.
Needless to say, I watched in horror in January and February of last year as news reports emerged from China about a new respiratory ailment that threatened to sicken people and shut down vast portions of the economy. In March, we received word that our very high school would be closing its mahogany doors. The curtain on my high-school theatrical career, tragically, fell forever, before I even had the chance to audition for the central role of the Stage Manager, which I planned to reinterpret as a strong, independent woman in the wake of #MeToo.
Perhaps Fate is the real Stage Manager.
The Stanislavski method of acting teaches us to incorporate our actual experiences into our Craft. Should I have the great honor of studying at the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University, I vow to incorporate the suffering of this past year into my Art as a tribute to all those, including myself, who have experienced such tremendous loss.
It is believed that the immortal bard, William Shakespeare, said, “Instead of weeping when a tragedy occurs in a songbird’s life, it sings away its grief.” My time at Brown will be my chance to “sing away grief,” except that, unlike the tragedies of Shakespeare and other playwrights, my tragedy is real and therefore more tragic.
Please find attached a video of me in a scene from Herb Gardner’s “A Thousand Clowns” (performed with J. Leonard Mitchell, member, Actors’ Equity). ♦
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