Six months ago, I started a journey that would end this past Monday. An audition where I performed something from Shakespeare’s “MacBeth,” (which I later found out is my director’s least favorite playwright and of the Bard’s works, his least favorite) actually landed me a spot on the cast for the Rivers Institute Traveling Theatre.
Of the seven people I worked and lived with all summer, I grew closer to some, and much farther from others. Theater is a discipline entirely unlike my major of computer science, and something I have done only briefly in the past. I learned about stage performance, working tech, stage assembly, traveling with a production and professionalism. I learned that much and more.
Winter break was when our rehearsals began for “Nothing Stops this Train,” and although I was in a cast with a few people I already knew, I was nervous about getting back into theater. The director hired by the Rivers Institute was very outgoing, and he helped to quickly break down walls between everyone in the production with his jokes and laid back demeanor.
That first week of rehearsals was straightforward; show up and read some lines so the director can figure out which role suits which actor the best. I ended up cast as John Tibbets, a real historical figure from the Hanover area who helped bring slaves to freedom during the Civil War era.
It was a simple role, nothing especially fancy, but the skill of some of the other actors working with me made me want to pour every ounce of effort into my role.
As you might have guessed from our name, we traveled for each of our shows. We went as far east as the Ohio-West Virginia border and as far north as Chicago, with plenty of shows between the two places.
By our last show, we had done nearly 25 performances, and after hearing each others’ lines so much, any one of us could practically recite the entire show as one person.
At the beginning of this journey I thought the end would bring some degree of sadness. You know, “I’m gonna miss you guys so much! Blah blah blah crying tears sadness weeping blah blah blah.”
Turns out, not at all. I’m glad I had the experience, and the money doesn’t hurt either, but after working and living with the same people for so long, the end couldn’t come quite soon enough.