Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Final Bows for Balancing Act, or My First Big Last.

Backstage on our second night, some of my fellow cast members and I were discussing whether we get emotional at the end of shows. I was saying that I'd never been before--I'm usually more excited to stop missing all the things that hell week/shows made me miss. 

Saturday night was different. About halfway through the show, we were signing cards for our directors and stage crew, etc. when I casually mentioned that it was hard for me to figure out what to say to MJ, as I had been her mentor the year before, and LC because she's actually my favorite person in the class of 2013. They're both people whom I would say have been integral to my Princeton experience, and trying to sum up what they mean to me in a few lines on a group card was impossible. This prompted one of our freshmen stars to suggest that I be the one to speak at the end of the show and present everyone with their flowers and cards, "because it means the most to me." 

It didn't really hit me how right she was til I was there after our final bow asking everyone to stick around because we as a company had some things to say. I gave every member of the crew their cards while EM distributed flowers. Then I stepped into the middle of the stage with MJ and LC on either side of me and gave them their cards and flowers and hugs and encouraged the crowd to give it up for them. I talked about how my freshman year, there were seven people in BAC|Drama, including the director's boyfriend whose participation may or may not have been voluntary. There's no way something of this magnitude would have been conceivable, let alone possible. MH came down onto stage and I said she was right there with me freshman year--we never imagined seeing the company grow to something like this. I was so incredibly proud of them, of the company as an abstract idea, of the actors and actresses (some of whom I'd just met that Monday but already felt so close to). It wasn't until after they'd each spoken and I was hugging people trying not to get my running mascara on them that someone pointed out to me that I should be proud of myself too, because the work MC, JB, and I (and countless others) had done in earlier years created an environment in which dreams this big were able to be realized. 

There are only two organizations in which I've been actively involved since my freshman year--the Black Arts Company Drama troupe and the Princeton Association of Black Women. These were among my first extracurricular homes on campus. There are few other things which I have played some role in shaping in which I can see such substantive change in over the course of my time at Princeton. Few other things played such a role in changing me--I had never acted before, never written for the stage or directed, never felt comfortable standing on a stage with a bright light shining on me. I don't know how I went from being a person who'd barely even seen plays to being a person who has been in 7 productions, co-directed a one act, co-wrote a one-act, and wrote directed and performed a monologue, a person who can improvise her scenes as she goes along without fucking anything up and making the audience crack up. Acting/writing/directing is something that was given to me in this space and it's something I'm unsure I'll ever really have again. 

Coming to the end of that took a lot out of me. It was the first of the Princeton-specific things in my life to come to an end...the first of many. It has been a beautiful experience overall, and I can't think of a more fulfilling end than Balancing Act. Much love to the whole cast and crew, and I'm looking forward to making the trip back to old Nassau to see you all do Aida next year. *sniffle*    

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