Five Reasons Why I Love Theatre + ANNOUNCEMENT

THEATRE ROCKS MY WORLD. The moment I stepped into my first middle school production comprising of short snippets from Shakespeare’s various works, I knew I was in for something amazing and not just because we received the big fruit snack packets every single rehearsal for three weeks. Yes, we learned many things, such as the difference between yelling versus “proJECTing” down to what it means to be a team player. Even though I miss those tech week rehearsals fueled with sugar, adrenaline, and joy due to time restraints, I still cherish it. That’s why the Ella (who is probably one of the sweetest and most enthusiastic people ever) over at February Fairy and I have composed at list of five reasons each as to why we love the world of theatrical performance. Be sure to head over to her blog and see her five reasons!

The language people use to refer to certain things is mind-boggling and disjointing for newcomers because many things have certain connotations and definitions straying away from what others perceive its meaning to be initially. For example, costume hangers? More like the brand new Hunger Games backstage because one person decided to not label which hanger belongs to them, thus beginning a domino effect. Bobby pins? Oh, do you mean the numerous metal contraptions in your hair which will keep all strands together and which you’ll find in your hair weeks after the show closes? Yup. Stage directions are almost always the opposite of what one may think is, and almost every single excuse can be justified with, “I can’t, I have rehearsal.” It really doesn’t take that long to understand. Just be sure to follow along with everyone else and you should be all right— that also includes hiding behind the curtains so the audience can’t see you. If you spot them, they see you.

Like the language, there are certain habits and traditions one must uphold. The cycle and routine is almost always the same. The good part is these are much easier to remember than everything else! One of my favorite warm up exercises is “Potato,” which is basically an energy game where you get something and you crescendo and decrescendo down volume. Another one of my favorite games is “WAH!” It’s a fast paced energy game which can be surmised as Hot Potato while doing Charlie’s Angels poses in a manner of seconds. Some theatre games are hard to explain outside of the performing arts sphere. For example, I tried to explain “WAH!” to my summer boss with poorly drawn diagrams and a step-by-step process and he still didn’t get it. While we have many energy games, there are also concentration ones, such as “Honey, Do You Love Me,” whose goal is to try to not break character as others approach you and say the titular question in the most comedic way possible.

I’m always the first to lose since I laugh way too much.

Most of the aforementioned are warmups, but the more fortune giving routines don’t happen until the week before performances. As someone who has said the two-worded g and l word during her first performance, just don’t make the same mistake I did! Always, always, always say break a leg. Don’t speak after we perform the haka and under any circumstances, do NOT say the M-word (hint: it’s a play by Shakespeare). If one is going to spread that kind of maliciousness they need to leave, right now! Perhaps the paranoia does come from being somewhat superstitious, but no chances can be taken.

The stereotype many have about performers is that all are extroverts who thrive in the spotlight and love being up on stage without any pitfalls occurring whatsoever. For others who do not identify with being in the limelight, the entire situation seems a bit uncomfortable. If this is the first image which comes into one’s head when one thinks of theatre and those who inhabit the stage, you’re almost right— all except for one description.

Hello! I’m an introvert who so happens to be comfortable on stage! Most of the time.

I say most of the time because there are times when I get flustered from being recognized every so often. Many of the theatre friends do not even know how much of an introvert I am until they encounter how I am in school, which then they do a complete revolution around their heads, nest their hands into their hair, and scream, “WHAT?” It’s almost a shocker that I would come to learn how to perform on stage when the thought of having many people internally judging you as you move around the space is terrifying. Yet, there is a population of introverts who easily perform on stage, with charisma and calmness in such an environmental emotionally and socially-charging. They blend into the crowd of extroverts. They can perform, sing songs, and remain calm onstage because, ultimately, the characters they play help them relax onstage. I sometimes even feel that introvert actors can connect to the audiences a bit more in how to act because they can channel that inner emotion and understand the underlying world behind every character’s actions. It does get exhausting after a two-hour rehearsal, but the joy of performing and telling a story—it’s the best feeling yet.

Hang on, I thought we were talking about the good things in theatre? Rejection is the opposite of all things good and pure in this wonderful world of theatre? Yet, it’s something I can attest can and will happen, like all other forms of the performing arts. Art is subjective, and out of all disciplines, theatre is probably one of the most subjective things because a person could easily be rejected just by their height or the vocal range. Yes, hair can easily be dyed. Contact lenses exists. But there are some things which are merely out of our control.

One of the theatre directors who recently rejected me wrote this thing on her social media. Reading this, I felt took rejection with so calmer than I usually do when the decision arrived because she makes such a good point. I quoted what she said down below:
“There is only one thing that you can control at an audition. Answer one question: “Would being in this show make me happy?” If the answer is yes. Audition. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Don’t hide. Audition.

Make the director’s life hard. Give that director the opportunity to cast you. It’s okay to be disappointed if they don’t. Sometimes, it just comes down to height or age, which are outside of your control. But what is in your control? Showing up.

Learn from auditioning. Every audition makes us better for the next one. It’s an opportunity to grow and meet other artists who are interested in the same things you are. You will get something out of it. All you have to do is show up.”
One of the things I try to do with some of the directors who rejected me is contact them after the audition and see what I can do better to potentially get cast next time, and it helps. It works. For one, it helps know your weak points, but more importantly it helps directors show that you’re wanting to learn, and who knows? Maybe next time, you will get cast and the taste of that success will be glorious.

Do you know those moments when a person sings and suddenly, it’s a miraculous flash mob as your friends dance around and suddenly, a melody becomes a three to five part harmony? And it’s something you’ve never rehearsed or planned which makes the entire moment all the more special? Behold, a daily occurrence in the life of performers backstage! One of my fond memories is gathering by the piano during a cold winter night, when the snow pummeled the ground so hard to the point where synthetic lights just made everything so cozy and everyone sang, “I’m Yours” and “Just Give Me a Reason” in perfect unity... all while attacking one another with Nerf Swords, of course. (This was a show involving stage combat, so the latter of the description is of course, appropriate).

Are you a fan of theatre or a fellow performer? Can you relate to any of this? What are some other things would you like to learn about life behind-the-scenes, like what happens when you encounter national tour cast members backstage like The Addams Family and Mamma Mia?

I am teaming up with the lovely Keira at Close to Nothing for the #TheBetterHumanProject. Basically, write a word/phrase on a piece of paper, with the hashtag in small letters on the right, bottom corner. Make sure your word/phrase is large enough to read in a photo. Then, hold the paper over your face and take a photo with it. (we want it to have an anonymous effect because some of you might not feel comfortable with sharing your face online). Edit your photo in b/w and share it with either one of us via email or send us a link! We will end up featuring photos in a future post on Keira's blog. The tentative time the post will be published will be around March, and we'll be accepting rolling submissions until then!

FIVE YEARS OF BLOGGING??? // Old Designs, Shoutouts, Survey & Snail Mail

I cannot believe I’ve been blogging for five years.

Five. YEARS. All back during my early NaNoWriMo days, where I returned home from school after feeling a sudden urge to start a blog and then spending the next three hours trying to customize the template because while orange is a beautiful color, my nonexistent coding skills told me the only way to decorate the template is by making everything multicolored and in the font of cranky. It would take a year before I’d open up to other bloggers besides those vested in the Young Writers forum and another year for the community to grow but by shish kebabs, we have gotten far!

My design skills have improved, by the way. A throwback to some old designs:

This was back when I had my old computer where the wifi was so bad we had to insert a chip just for it to connect and even when it did connect, it was a fifty perfect success rate. Also, back when I had my ANCIENT URL.

I'm internally sobbing.

All of these look so hopeful.

A bit naive but hopeful. Also, apparently blue is a REALLY big part of my identity as a blogger...

*sobs over all of these past design screenshots because of NOSTALGIA of when I used to update my design every season back when I used to not be busy*

I’m really excited and REALLY pumped because one, there’s a new design up!!! Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s funny, because it somewhat matches the color scheme of my wardrobe (sans the brightly colored pants, stripped t-shirts, and the three inch wedges because am short). Isn’t the match somewhat comedic? There’s a bunch of mini wardrobes and little secret pages dispersed around, if you know where to find them...

Now, there are a few of my friends I would like give shoutouts too who have impacted me in such a way along this journey. I thoroughly believe they are the world changers who are making change right now, those who are willing to discuss everything and anything, from politics down to ranting about dance teachers who like to put things off until last minute. And they aren’t going to change the world, because they already are since they perceive the world differently than everyone else does. If I didn’t shout you out, please don’t feel like I don’t value our friendship— I really do— but if I continued to write about everyone, this post would go on for such a long time.

Ayla (aka Oakstar) — We met in the comments section of a magazine both of us loved in our tween years and while we haven't chatted in awhile due to both being incredibly busy, I'm so happy to call his girl my friend. I admire her ability for being so outspoken about her opinions and offering advice when I'm down in a slump. She's going to go out and do great things-- but first, time to go and fangirl over Glee. <3

Grace Anne—The only disagreement we have is our favorite breakfast foods! This is my twin over from the East Coast who adores waffles, musical theatre, and all of the discussions about life ranging from ranting about directors down to the important things.

Jo Day— I HAVE SUCH IMMENSE RESPECT FOR HER. Jo always has the most thought-provoking posts in the history of the blogging world. Musical analysis? Politically charged posts? She’s got them. I honestly love discussing some of the subjects she tackled because having a friend you can chat about certain stuff despite having some disagreements on with is super important especially if a person wants to grow and be well informed.

Olivia— Probably the strongest person of them all. This girl talks about everything out and in between, and is vulnerable and real enough to let people know that sometimes, she isn't okay, but she's going to go on keep being strong, all while fangirling over the latest Marvel and Disney movies, of course.

Anna— My precious blue cinnamon roll! If something concerns Harry Potter or Stranger Things, we're both busy fervently chatting with one another and just feeling all the feels. That's pretty much what 99% of our chats consist of, with the one percent being how to name succulents. xD I swear, if we ever are lucky enough to meet up in real life, we're just going to be busy flailing and visit all the libraries and book shops. Watch out, world!

Autumn— Just a happy bright person all around! There's something grounding in all of her posts that just really makes you relate to her a ton. Her photography is on point, but her baking skills are fifty percent higher than I'll ever reach in my lifetime. Also, we low-key #twin on many things. CAN SHE PLEASE ALSO MAKE A RECIPE BOOK OKAY THANK YOU.

Neha— Aka Jollygirl, the sweetest most introspective soul out there. I love reading her posts because despite being so much younger than I am, she’s takes note of things going on in the world and sees them from various perspectives. Her poetry is such a great combination of story telling and reflection. She's also one of my go-to for book recommendations so if anyone needs any good reads, just ask her.

May— AKA the one True Mango Queen and probably one of the greatest kinds of queens out there. She is hilarious and just a ball of sunshine, so get acquainted with her right now, okay? Okay.

Mackenzie— If May’s the Mango Queen, Mackenzie is the one and only Pizza Queen! I love her never ending enthusiasm (note: whenever we chat, it involves caps lock and sparkle emojis). She’s also a great artist and editor. Just look at her art on her Etsy shop, friends!

Jada and Christina— I placed these two in the same group because I’ve known them for the longest time (since the beginning of 2013), right before I started to blog all thanks to a small event known as NaNoWriMo. While they’ve divulged from writing novels and time has caused us to grow apart, their work is awe inspiring: through Jada’s conceptual photography and Christina’s sharp sweet tongue, these two strong women are not hesitant to shed light on the more vulnerable and ugly in their art, and thus why— no matter what medium they use— their messages ring potent truths and have done so much to amassing over thousands of loyal readers and viewers. We've all grown, but in different ways.

Also, shout out to RosieRachelSophiaLexieNoorVanessaAnnaGrayNina & Nabila for all being strong and wonderful, going out into the world and doing their own thing. Again, if I did not mention you, do not feel disappointed-- these are only the small amount of people I interact with and do not think for one moment I disregard you, because I do not.

I’m thinking about changing up the topics posted on here. I won’t delineate from my typical posting topics of just life adventures & writing tips— I’d like to potentially deepen into these topics by giving more life posts, while also touching base on bookish and college related posts as well once a month. To help me make decisions regarding the future of Ups & Downs, I’ve created a survey! Please, please, please, if you have time to give feedback, let me know, as I’d love to improve and I cannot do that without hearing from other perspectives.

I wanted to host a giveaway, but when I realized how expensive shipping items are especially from a state so far off from everyone else (plus paying for tracking just to make sure the package arrives safely— YIKES), I decided to do something much more meaningful and fun instead! I’m planning on sending snail mail, with some small fun written notes (poetry, anyone?) washi tape, along with some recommendations. Thank you, Grace Anne, for helping me solidify the idea! Snail mail is US only, for now, since it’s so expensive to send internationally. If you can’t receive snail mail and still want to take part in this, you still can, though it will take me longer to assemble things electronically.

If you want to receive snail mail, please message down below with your favorite color scheme, alongside three of your favorite books and artists each. I’ll email you each individually so we can talk more about the details (please have a contactable email on your blogs, but if no, shoot me a message on my contact page). Everything must be received by February 21st so I can mail or email for those partaking digitally everything out by the end of this month!

From the bottom of my heart-- thank you all for being on this journey with me.