8 Dec

7 things high school theatre taught me

Me on the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York

Me on the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York

Recently I had the pleasure of performing in my high school’s rendition of Once Upon a Mattress, and being a senior, this was perhaps my last theatre performance in high school. As I got back home after the show’s last run, I sat in my room looking through old Playbills and pictures and reflecting on how amazing my theatre experience had been the last four years; I realized then how much theatre meant to me and just how much I learned by performing on stage and working behind the scenes. And so here’s a bit of theatrical wisdom passed from me to you:

1. There is no room for divas in this world.

None. There is no room for divas anywhere in this world, not even in the theatre. And while the theatre may be full of drama queens, divas have a much tougher time in life. While divas may have a lot of friends to their face, they are often the ones that end up like Julius Caesar—stabbed in the back. It’s really the talented, yet humble actors who have it the best.

2. The ensemble MATTERS

My theatre director’s claim to fame is that he performed in 52 shows at the St. Louis MUNY—every show as an ensemble roll. “It’s the PROCESS of theatre I love best,” he’s told us. “It’s just being a part of something bigger.” And what theatre has taught me best is that every person counts. There have been so many of my classmates that have scads of talent that have wound up in ensemble. “Doesn’t that make you mad?” I asked one of my friends, “not getting a principal roll your senior year?”

“No,” she said. “it’s more fun this way, just working for the good of the group and being a part of huge, cheesy dance numbers, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

And come to think of it, neither would I.

Me and my friend Allie backstage at "Once Upon a Mattress"

Me and my friend Allie backstage at “Once Upon a Mattress”

3. It really doesn’t matter how well you dance

I’m a horrid dancer but I found that most of the time, even if you don’t know the choreography– if you look like you know what you’re doing, the audience will believe it.  There’s a fair amount of bluffing in life and if you make it seem like you know what you’re doing, then sooner or later you may actually know how to do it.

4. Someone has always got to lose

So you didn’t get the part you wanted—big whoop—a lot of people didn’t get the part they wanted either. But in the world of theatre, writing, or many other art-related endeavors, someone is always going to get the part and someone isn’t. That doesn’t mean you’re not talented. That doesn’t mean your audition or your story was bad; that simply means that now isn’t your time, so keep your chin up and enjoy what part you did get, eh?

5. Don’t let the haters get you down

There’s always some bitter person who is going to say “I could have done that better”. But you’ve got to stop listening to those negative voices, whether they be haughty cast members, inner-editors, or else wise. The only way to enjoy what you’re doing and find inner peace is to try your hardest, know you’ve done the best you can do, and know that haters are gonna hate.

6. Less is best

One of the coolest things about my school’s theatre program is that it’s all self-supporting. The school district doesn’t really give us a budget, we make back all the money they loan us with ticket sales alone. Why? Because we put on dang good shows with what we have. We also find ways to work with what we have. Some set pieces used in the musical this year are surviving pieces from the musical my freshman year. A lot of our costumes were borrowed or hand-made. We may not have a lot of money like some schools but we sure know how to use what we have and always make the best of it. And isn’t that what life is about—making the best of what it hands you? Lemonade anyone?


me dressed as Pepper from "ANNIE", my junior year musical

me dressed as Pepper from “ANNIE”, my junior year musical.

7. When one show closes, another one opens.

My director reminded us all on closing night of the show that this wasn’t the end for any seniors or anyone, while this may have been the end of our run of Once Upon a Mattress that didn’t mean it was the end of anyone’s theatre experience. While I don’t know if I’ll get to perform on my high school’s stage again, I know that one thing in life is always true, that when a chapter of your life closes, there is always that Big Man up in the sky poised to pen another equally amazing chapter.


Just some musings from a Little Lady 😉




  • Agree little lady I can’t wait for tomorrow and thesipan conference and prdoe & prejudice.can’t wait to hear more see you tomorrow for something rotten in Denmark

  • I couldn’t agree more! I loved every minute of the plays I was in and made lifetime friends!!! Thanks for sharing those darling photos with us too!

  • Little Lady, you’re so wise. I like #2,3, and 4. That’s great that you have people who show you that it’s just fun to be a part of the process. That’s why I LOVE our Lit Ladies :) !!!

  • This is so true, couldn’t agree more.

So, what do you think?