Dear Becky

October 12, 2012
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Dear Becky,

“I am a curious, courageous actor and I be appreciated.” That’s what a camper wrote on her folder where I worked at Shakespeare camp. This inspired me immensely, to see someone so young yet so motivated and able to voice who she is and who she wants to be. At only 11, she already has her personal mission statement. I have tried so many times to answer the questions we were supposed to answer for this assignment. It wasn’t until I saw this girl’s folder that I realized what I wanted to say. I’m sorry if it doesn’t answer all the questions it’s supposed to, but it is stripped away from everything but the truth.

I like acting. And yes I’ll admit it, I am a selfish person. I act mainly because I enjoy it. People (like you) have told me I have a natural talent for what I do, and that may be true, but it’s never been a deciding factor of why I wanted to be an actor. I’ve never even thought about being good. I just love it quite a bit and know it’s what I need to do.

I think I agree with my aspiring young camper. I am a courageous actor. I am not afraid to take risks with my choices and roles. I love making a fool out of myself, especially for an audience. I think my skill as an actor comes from my love of the trade. I put positive energy into my characters and am always dedicated to the cast and the production. I hope that through this dedication, I can move and inspire my audience as so many performers have done for me. I remember when I was 12 and went to see the Yeomen of the Guard with my grandparents. [SPOILER ALERT] When the jester died at the end, I was in tears. He was such a minor role, but the emotion he carried was so great and his performance was so engaging I felt as though his death was the great tragedy of the play. In that moment, I knew I had to learn how to do what he did. I wanted to make 12-year-old girls with no interest in the play sob at my character’s death. I wanted to tell a story. Most of all, I wanted to inspire other people. Not just to become actors, but to become better people. I want to make other people care and feel.

All of my Shakespeare camp teachers have inspired me (especially you, Becky). The first time I truly felt a connection with a mentor was with my director for the Winter’s Tale (the first time around). The year before that summer had been a tough one. I was being bullied quite a bit at school and was even switching schools in the fall because of a girl Eliza. She would tell me that I could never be anything because I was so small. She told me tears (and I had a lot of them) were weak. That emotion was weak and I was the biggest baby ever. By the end of the year, I believed every word she said. I was like an abused puppy, and went everywhere with my tail between my legs. But my director, Julie, saw something strong inside of me and cast me as Hermione. Throughout the two weeks, I learned I was strong. And I could show emotion and be even stronger. I learned not to let others words hurt me. Julie helped make me the person I am today. She saved my heart and taught me how to stand tall. My goal as an actor is to inspire people in the way Julie and Hermione inspired me. And Becky, your inspiration is the strongest of all. You taught me to have faith in my ability and gave me the power of language.

You said actors cannot actively change the world like politicians. You said that we should be doing something to make a difference. But look at us, we can change the world through our art and we will! Actors can change the world because of this inspiration they give people. Actors look into people’s souls and can change their mind and heart. We can use words in a way no others can. We have access to all the pieces of the puzzle that make up human emotion and comprehension. We have a gift, and that gift can change the world.

Lastly, I want my life to mean something. I need to perform meaningful plays and scenes. I can’t mutter any old words about who kissed who in the hallway and why I broke up with that guy and OMG I can’t believe that gossip! The theatre I participate in has to have an impact on the lives of my audience. I can’t be another “poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage.” I need to have a purpose and theatre needs to have a purpose. Even if the only purpose is to tell an interesting story. That’s why Shakespeare is so special: it has a point, it inspires, and it changes the world.

So I guess my truth-the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth turned out to answer your questions. Isn’t it funny how that happens sometimes? This is who I am as an actor, a teacher, and a being. This is my mission statement, which is something I would never have if it wasn't for you. Thank you for teaching me all that you did.


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