Celebrating the Ensemble

Most theatre arts teachers easily remember their best students. These were the students who were the “stars,” the talented kids who played most of the leads. These are the students who continued to excel when they moved on, the ones who went on to work professionally in theatre. Some of them became famous, or at least well known in a given metropolitan area. And it is well to remember those students; they are the stuff on which reputations are built.

Who else should be remembered—and thanked—are the students who were not quite so talented, who did not get the majority of the leads, but who auditioned for every show, who took the lesser roles: the second supporting female, the friendly doctor, the maid, the unnamed party guest. We should remember and thank those who came back show after show, who took the roles they were given, and who acquitted themselves honorably, playing the role given to the best of their abilities, and coming back for more. Occasionally, one of these students would have the right qualities to be the unexpected lead in a show, but for the most part, they played all those non-leading parts that are absolutely necessary to the production. These are students who did not go on in professional theatre, but who loved theatre as much as any of the leading actors ever did.

Often this love of theatre will drive the student to become a part of a community theatre, wherever they happened to end up. Many would have long, satisfying careers as community players, still often taking roles considered less than the leads. They would enjoy being members of the chorus in the annual musical. They would seek out roles that seemed to suit who they had become, and often they would take roles for which they did not audition. Because they love theatre, they continue to perform whenever and wherever they get the chance. And again they come back for show after show, unencumbered by excessive ego or pride, happy to be able to have an opportunity to do the work.

Often these actors communicate their love of the theatre to their children, who exhibit many of the same characteristics in children’s theatre productions: happy to be on the stage, even if the part is small, happy to be part of a group that realizes a production in front of an audience in real time. Because, they understand there is no substitute for live theatre. Some of these children grow up be the leads and the stars of high school and college productions; some go on to become professionals. More do not; they continue to be those who perform for love; who happily take the lesser roles because by so doing they are allowed to continue to participate in the live theatre experience. And the cycle continues.

It’s time that we celebrate these theatre kids, those who make up the ensemble, those who come back show after show, knowing they will likely not get a lead, but who so much enjoy being part of the community and the process. It’s time to celebrate the ensemble, without whom we could do no shows at all.

Date: Sunday, 16. June 2024 23:38
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