Life Up On Stage This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The lights are scorching. Looking out I can only see blurred figures in the audience. With every word my heart beats faster. At any moment, a missed line, missed cue or some other obstacle could break the focus. Still, we trained for this and know we won’t let a mishap destroy our performance. The show must go on!

Cue for black out, the lights flicker to let me know it’s almost showtime. Zipping up my black jumpsuit, I am ready. The smell of paint, the sounds of a drill, the sight of electrical cords on the back wall all flood my mind as I merge into the shadows. This is the place I love - the stage. The second half of my theatrical identity, it’s something I can indulge in, a true love of art and control.

First, I worked backstage, moving swiftly in my black jumpsuit and hidden from the audience. As stage manager I had a firm grip, and everyone respected the fact that during performances I ruled every inch of that theater. If actors requested a prop, like a genie, their wish would be my command. Stage make-up? No stress. Being an artist and a cosmetics fan, I quickly learned to apply it.

Special effects? You bet I did them. During the show I made sure that the director and the actors, as well as my own crew, had as little stress as possible. I was never afraid to get my hands dirty. In fact, they were filthy from painting, sweeping, make-up, and whatever else was thrown my way. Thankfully I got along with everyone, which made my job great. It was so rewarding to see the finished product run smoothly, and learn that others loved it all: the sets and the sound effects, as well as the actors.

After a year of commanding the stage from behind the curtains, my director decided it was time for me to enter the spotlight in "The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket." I was supposed to be the stage manager, but the director had everyone audition. When she announced the cast I had envisioned who would have which role, and, as I listened to the list, I was right. But then she came to the part of Alice and called my name.

"What?" I felt my face burn as everyone turned toward me. I felt faint. I had actually gotten a role, a lead role, in a play our principal had personally cast! Although I was flattered, I felt I should decline since I was scared to be on stage. Then something inside told me to try. So I practiced and practiced and designed my costumes, and by the end I was as ready as I’d ever be.

After long nights of rehearsing, the day arrived. I couldn’t believe I would actually be on stage in front of everyone. We were all nervous, but things started out smoothly.

When I heard them call, "Where’s Alice?" I stepped out and spoke my first line as loudly and clearly as I could. I didn’t dare look into the audience, but managed to see my family in the front row. I knew they loved and supported me, and I was determined not to let them down.

As the play continued, I ventured out of my shell and moved more freely on stage. Words and emotions poured from me. I had done it, and it was amazing.

* * *

"And the ‘Best Play of the Year’ award goes to ... ‘The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket.’ And the ‘Best Newcomer Actress’ goes to ..."

Me. At our first-ever Academy Awards Night, I not only won this honor but was also named the new Drama Club co-president. Ever since drama became part of my life, it has opened so many doors. After the production, I started taking vocal lessons and played Snow White in the musical "Into the Woods." Then I was out of the woods and into the Hollywood Bowl, thanks to my art teacher who suggested I apply for a job in their Summer Sounds Program where I was stage manager.

Years from now, performing will still give me a rush, but another part of me still flashes back to my days as the Stage Amazon Queen. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty and putting some back into hard labor. After all, "The show must go on!"

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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