I recently subscribed to the Citizen Tribune and much to my pleasant surprise, they want my opinion. Okay, not me specifically but clearly it says they want to hear from their readers. I’m not sure they know what they are asking for but here goes.
I’m new in town, which among many other things, means I get to see things from a different perspective than those who have been here for a while. I’m like the kid from the country that goes to NYC for the first time, craning his neck looking at everything and saying out loud “Gawly, look at that!” Everything is new and different.
You might be thinking, who is this guy, only living here for six months, and what does he know? And I say, not much. but that never stopped me from expressing my opinion.
Circumstances brought us here. My fiancee was drawn here for a career opportunity. I used that as an excuse to retire from teaching middle school Career and Technology Ed in NC for 27 years. It seemed like a good time to move out of the cold and snow of Boone, NC to a warmer climate, longer growing season for our gardens, and new opportunities.
Just in case you haven’t noticed, Morristown is a great little city, brimming with interesting people, many of them striving to make this a place where people can find not only financial security but also social and recreational opportunities. In fact, before moving here, we were told how wonderful the local community theaters were. And they were right.
The latest research in psychology and well being tells us there are five things that make activities (or life) worthwhile. They are: 1. If it’s fun. 2. If it’s engaging. 3. If we have positive relationships. 4. Includes a sense of purpose and 5. Includes a sense of achievement. My recent plunge into acting with the Theatre Guild, Inc. confirms my suspicion that it is worth my while. And you might too.
The cool thing about community theatre is that you don’t have to be great. Hey, you don’t even have to be good. There is very little competition, so almost anyone can find some way to contribute. Even if you are not thrilled with the prospect of getting up on stage and risking embarrassment, they still need folks to build scenery, run lights, sound, make food, clean up and more. I’m still hoping for a massage therapist to show up to rub our shoulders before the shows to ease our tensions.
So why don’t more people venture into this domain? Fear? Of what? Brene Brown calls it shame, also understood as fear of not being good enough in some respect. Fear that I won’t be accepted, fear of failure, fear of not looking, talking, walking or being enough in general. I know that feeling. I certainly felt those things to some degree. So does everyone else I know. But here’s what we found? In community theatre, everyone is good enough. We are all pieces of the puzzle, each different in their own way, but it is our uniqueness, each with our quirks and idiosyncrasies that makes the puzzle complete. And makes the show go on.
Back to that list of five things? When the show is over, I’ve discovered I feel like I belong here in this quirky city. After a few weeks of rehearsals, two weekends of shows, and despite a few mistakes here and there, we learned that, 1. We are not perfect, or even the best, but we were good enough. 2. It is fun, and engaging, and the time flew by. 3. New friends were made with great people, young, old and in between. 4. We achieved our group purpose by providing a couple of hours of respite for a couple hundred people. In “Arsenic and Old Lace,” from backstage we could hear the laughter and laughed along with the audience. With “A Christmas Carol”. We, along with the audience, were reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. Spoiler alert. It isn’t the presents.
Finally, There is the sense of accomplishment when it is over. What started in a basement room at the Rose Center, reading lines for a part, magically, the show it seems comes together. The sense of accomplishment? Huge. Imagine fist bumps in the air backstage. Maybe even a houyah or two as well. It wasn’t ALL magic though. It was a group of committed people, working, playing, laughing, all while rehearsing a few or five nights a week. We have a supportive board, a patient artistic director known as Joe Powell, and so many others that made it happen. It’s been happening for about 84 years in fact. And will continue I hope. We have a place for you if you too are looking to challenge yourself, have fun and make a few friends. You belong.