I am recieving college credit for attending the OSF Summer Seminar, and part of recieving the credit was to write an essay of my time there. So here it is…
The 2007 Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar for High School Juniors–
July 30th-August 11th 2007, only two weeks. Two weeks to make Sixty-Five plus friends. Two weeks to open yourself to the world. Two weeks to find yourself. Two weeks to awaken to life. Two weeks to learn to make a difference. Two weeks at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
“The Seminar is nothing like I imagined it, it breaks the barrier of my imagination.”-August 6th, 2007. Just seven days into the seminar, one week, I began to notice a change. I arrived at the seminar expecting the same old routine. Then I stepped into something completely different. Where was the, “Your doing it wrong?”, the “ Do it Differently?”, the “ Its all about me?”. Instead I was hit with, “Your Doing Great!”, “Let me lead you in the right direction!”, “Its about the ensemble!.” One week in, and I began to think in a positive way not only about my accomplishments but also my mistakes. I learned to realize that mistakes are what lead us to our accomplishments. Penny Metropolis said during her directing workshop, “There are no wrongs, but there are mistakes. Mistakes can always be fixed, but wrongs tend to stay broken.” At that moment it came to me, that the seminar was different.
There were several key moments in the seminar that seem to stick in my head above all the rest. The first being the moment I walked into the lobby at the Susan Holmes Dormitory. The second being the Romeo and Juliet workshop. These two things pop out at me for several different reasons. The moment that I walked into the lobby of the Dormitory, I was stunned to know that all the senior assistants already new my name. It was this weird feeling that you were going to be welcomed with open arms. Then as the wave of welcoming voices shouted out “HELLO”; I think my stomach after being so clinched and turned from the nerves, finally un-twirled and became normal.
Walking around the Dormitory lobby, introducing myself to seventy strangers was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Although it will be forever branded in my memory as one of the greatest feelings at the Seminar. It was the first time meeting these people. These people that I had no idea, in two weeks, were going to change my life forever. It was the first time that I was speaking to these people, who at the time I had no idea, were exactly like me. It was the first time that I was asked to step completely outside of my comfort zone. It was the first time that I was completely and honestly myself.
Being myself became my goal for the Seminar. I did not want to act in a different way just to please others. I decided the moment I departed from the airport that I was going to be myself. I had thoughts that it was not going to be the easy thing, I had come from a theatre program were reputation and the way you represented guarantied you; friends, parts, and status. My theatre program is a good one, it just lacks character. It is all based upon groups. There are only two groups, but you are branded into one of these groups. The first group is the Improv team kids. These kids are always known to be the slackers, and those who take theatre not so seriously. Then there were the play kids. Those kids who either performed in the Fall Musical, Winter Play, or Spring Play. It is these groups that were our theatre programs weakness. Then I came to Oregon. WOW! I just could not believe that it was really happening. The play type kids were talking with the play type kids. I was taken back, I just could not believe it. It was two weeks of paradise.
Now I come to one of the most inspirational parts of my Oregon Shakespeare Festival adventure, the Romeo and Juliet workshop. When I first began to memorize that scene, I kept thinking to myself, Why? I was not sure why I was doing it. I had no reason to care at that moment. The only motivation of memorizing was that it was required. Then we entered the workshop. From the moment we entered the room I knew why we had memorized it. I could tell that it was going to be something special. The only way I can really describe my experience is from my journal entry:
“ August 8th 2007- Am not exactly sure what happened today. I have a mixture of events in my memory. I remember waking up, showering, and eating breakfast. I remember warm ups with Terri McMahon. I remember an amazing backstage tour. I then remember falling madly in love. The only way I can describe our Romeo and Juliet workshop today, is a “out of body experience.” I can picture every thing about tonight in vivid detail. My first step into the meeting hall was like walking into a symphonic symphony. Soft vibrant music hit my ears. Music that I can only describe as amazing. We all settled in, our eyes closed, relaxed. The music filling my body. This Joyful yet sorrowful music, mesmerized every part of my body. My eyes drifted in and out. I could feel my heart beat. With our eyes closed, being led to an unknown destination. My eyes opened and my partner sitting in front of me gazed back into my eyes. Then the story of Romeo and Juliet. Our hands holding tighter and tighter as the story advanced. Then separation. A maddening feeling that my world was being tossed. Then her voice, among other voices. The other voices started to drown out, all I could here was her. Then with hands grasping once more, finally together, the words that I had memorized two weeks earlier. The words came alive. I could feel nothing but the words. So vibrant and whole. Then blindness, holding tight, distraction…and am lost. I am being torn from the women I love. I am yelling at the top of my lounges. I only want to be with her. Drum beats. Beat! Beat! Beat! My eyes open, the music stills, our hands release, the words over, the connection slowly sliding away. Am not Romeo and she is not Juliet. I really can not tell you in exact words the emotions that I felt tonight. For probably the one hundredth time this week, I realized that I am at this seminar for a reason.” I truly can not describe what I felt. It was something that made me feel happy inside. Not just the normal everyday Happy, but truly amazingly happy. The sort of happy that only comes from; being on stage, being with family, and finding someone to share your every thought with. At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar for High School Juniors, I found a lost part of my family.
The Seminar to me was a reinstatement of why I love theatre. I truly miss being in Ashland. It will forever be my home away from home. There is just something about being able to be yourself that makes your realize that life is incredible. I owe so much to the Staff, and teaching artists of OSF. .