I’ve been asked by people why I’ve committed a ridiculous number of hours to theatre since the year I turned 15. They wonder why I willingly got home at 8 pm everyday for months during grades 10-12. They wonder why I gave up my Sundays for about 5 months in my first year of university.
The answer is quite simple. It’s because performing on stage has been fueling me since I first tried it 4 years ago.
When I’m on stage, I’m not Taha anymore. Taha is in another dimension, drifting away in limbo, and I don’t have to worry about him or his problems. I get to be someone different and new.
Acting as someone different than who I am forces me to step out of my comfort zone and live in the mind and body of someone who has different ambitions, dreams, and goals as me. It forces me to understand that character, and in turn, understand real people around me with similar traits. When I play a homeless blind man, I get a very tiny glimpse into the life of someone who lives a very different life from me. By taking on this role I experience the difficulty of navigating a stage because my eyes have to be shut for the entire 10 minute monologue, and I realize that there are people out there who have been accustomed to the difficulty of navigating the entire world because their eyes never opened to begin with. By taking on this role, I understand humankind just a little bit more.
Have you ever worked your butt off for a group presentation with your partners and felt immense satisfaction when you realized all of your hard work paid off? Whether it’s something as simple as solving a puzzle, or something as complex as inducing quantum teleportation, it’s a part of human nature to form bonds with people who work with you towards a common goal. Multiply that feeling by about 437258937497 (or any other really large number), and that’s the feeling you get when you put on a show with a group of people that have been working towards it for months. The rehearsal process is tedious. It’s fun and exciting, but it is tedious. Rehearsals consist of learning material and then rehearsing that material over and over again for months until it’s “show-ready”. You see, the thing about rehearsing scenes/songs until they’re show-ready is that it requires a company to function as a unit. When one person screws up, it counts as everyone screwing up and the show now has one more screw up than it did before. When you’re a member of a company, you realize that even if just one person falls short, a point of support for your show is automatically diminished. You realize that it’s up to the entire cast and crew to hold the show on their backs and to learn to support one another. You learn the importance of teamwork.
The bonds I’ve formed by being a part of these shows have lasted me years, and have allowed me to meet incredibly unique groups of individuals (including some of my closest friends); Individuals whom I would have never met under other circumstances. I’ve learned so much from these people, whether they were acting, directing, vocal directing, producing, choreographing, part of the orchestra, or working backstage, and they’ve unknowingly helped me through some of the hardest times of my life. Every time I make the decision to commit to a show, I’m allowing myself to meet a group of amazing individuals who come from all sorts of different backgrounds, but have been united by a common cause.
All in all, the ridiculous number of hours I’ve spent on theatre haven’t been very ridiculous at all, because they’ve been hours spent doing incredible things with even more incredible people.
It is indeed very strange that this game of pretend that we call “theatre” has been embraced by so many cultures throughout the history of mankind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.