Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Final Bow

I am every story I have ever read. I am every show I have ever been in or worked on. Every character I have ever played, every scene from each plot I have written or directed, every moment I have organised.

Because that’s what life is made up of, moments. Clusters of actions spurred by feelings, responsibilities, consequences. Moments compressed together to create the bigger pictures that we look back upon and reminisce.

Sometimes, these moments aren’t easy to look back on with happiness, but luckily for me, I’ve had the opportunity to spend the last three years experiencing and creating extraordinary ones whilst participating in six shows with my Musical Theatre Society throughout the duration of my undergraduate degree.

This is a post that has been a long time coming, and is bound to be packed full of romanticised rememberings, clich├ęd comments and general soppiness. So, if you cringe easily, now is the time to hit that back button of yours.

-----

It is immensely difficult to put into words what being part of a theatre company is like to those who have never experienced it before without sounding like an over-the-top lunatic. But for those that do know, you’ll understand. You certainly don’t need a team of highly-paid professionals, masses of money, huge venues and sell-out shows to be part of something special.

On the 22nd May 2015, my time in Coventry University’s MTS came to an end. Struggling through my final bow during our closing performance of Loserville, tears of joy, sadness and sheer pride streaming down my face, I knew it was the conclusion of something amazing.

How had three years with these people passed so quickly?

The timid little Fresher version of myself bowing with the ensemble at the end of our first showcase over two years previous seemed unfathomable now. Here I was, for the final time, bowing with some of the most crazy, incestuous, enthusiastic, talented and driven people I’ll ever meet. This was the end of three indescribable years of being able to participate in the thing I love most and be unapologetically enthusiastic about it. And boy, did that hit me.

Participating in MTS throughout the duration of my undergraduate degree has challenged and supported me in ways I did not expect when signing up back in September 2012. I’ve had three years to learn more about myself, to discover my strengths and weaknesses, to solidify which direction I wish my life to go in as I step into the abyss known more commonly as ‘Adulthood’.

ACT ONE

First Year was exactly that; a time of firsts. This was the first year I had performed with anyone other than people I’d been friends with since starting Primary school. It was the first year I’d been led and directed by a creative team that weren’t paid to do so. People who were doing it purely because they wanted to.

It was the first year I began to push the boundaries I had formerly set for myself; the first year I had ever chosen to put myself forward for a leadership position. The first year I properly believed I could succeed at something without having a team of teachers guiding and persuading me into doing so.

It was the first year I got absolutely smashed at socials far too regularly, making memories that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to erase, and hangovers I certainly wish I could’ve.

It was the first year I was completely out of my comfort zone, and it was the year I began to embrace it.

ACT TWO

The game significantly changed in Second Year. Whilst the socials were a given to continue, when September rolled around, I was suddenly faced with the task of fixing and leading a society. MTS wasn’t completely broken, but I’d be lying if I said it was up to the standard I wanted, and knew we could be.  The following nine months brought a whole host of Artistic Team line-ups, unexpected cast alterations, a number of musical issues, struggles to locate funds, but most importantly an outcome of two fantastic shows with two equally as fantastic and happy casts. We pulled it off.

Being in charge was a steep learning curve. Juggling a degree, part-time job, family and social commitments alongside nurturing a society is no easy feat. However, thanks to having an incredible team of people to work with, most notably our wonderful director for Guys and Dolls plus such supportive friends willing to help in any way possible, we succeeded. We couldn’t have done as well as we did without my fellow Squares (to name only a couple) tolerating my constant stressing, offering guidance without judgement, and creating laughter when there were almost tears.

I’ve never been more comfortable or confident within a responsibility as when I was leading MTS. Every day I felt driven, determined, exhilarated and ready for whatever challenge was going to be thrown our way. I aim and long to feel that way again in my future career, whichever road my upcoming Masters takes me on. If I find a project, role or company that makes me feel even vaguely the same as I did when I was President, I’ll know I’m on the right track.

ACT THREE

I still can’t quite put into words what Final Year meant to me. Everything we did seemed just that, final. And although I was bracing myself for the ending from the beginning (because I have an incessant need to be in control when it comes to emotion, and figured if I could plan my feelings they wouldn’t be so extreme), it came around so very quickly I hadn’t quite worked out how to deal with it.

The first term brought with it winds of change; a showcase that was more than a simple compere dotted between musical numbers. It was the first time I’d worked as part of a team to organise and provide costume and set, and whilst we were relatively restricted, I took a lot of enjoyment from the experience. No Day But Today brings back hilarious memories of crawling across a dance floor stage desperately holding down laughter whilst simultaneously singing ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ in what was perhaps the most awkward dance routine I’ve ever done. Tears appeared during the final number, ‘Finale B’ from Rent! on our closing night, as I realised there really was ‘no day but today’.

Loserville.

Ah, Loserville. You broke me in such a beautiful way. Like glass shattering in slow motion, a mess crumbling everywhere but somehow still managing to sparkle. No matter how stressed, annoyed, angry and bossy I got during the run up to this show, it’s going to take a hell of a lot to beat it. Sheer determination to create the show I knew we could perform, and the cast deserved to have (plus a lot of caffeine, alcohol and good company) got me through the insane final two weeks before the curtain went up.

To end my time in MTS with Loserville was so fitting. Ever since seeing the show on the West End, I knew it was the ideal musical for us as a society to perform, especially this year with the members we had. And although some people were dubious towards it at the beginning, by the end there wasn't a single cast or crew member not crazily proud of what we’d created.

Words can't describe what Loserville meant to me. It may have driven me insane with stress at times, but I was determined to get the version of this show I'd dreamed of doing on stage. This was evident with my constant moaning about the Planetarium scene, for example. It was going to be just the way I wanted it and nothing else. And on the final night, when the projection of those stars hit the screen at the perfect time, and I walked backstage to see the cast and band all enjoying themselves, the cast singing to the audience but also to one another, tears in some eyes, hands being held, silent nods of appreciation and pride being passed around, it’s safe to say I lost it. A blubbering mess I became once more. Witnessing everyone there performing together so beautifully as a collective, a cast, a team; all that stress melted away and it was all so very worth it. I’m beyond gutted I don’t get the chance to be a part of that again.

-----

I am every story I have ever read. I am every show I have ever been in or worked on. Every character I have ever played, every scene from each plot I have written or directed, every moment I have organised.

Because that’s what life is made up of, moments.

And oh, am I grateful I got three years of making moments with you.

Stay Geeking, guys. I can’t wait to see what you do next year.

A
xxxx