The Supporting Role

The Supporting Role

A letter to ensure a reality check among theatre kids

   Dear Theatre Kids and Curious Minds Alike,
   You've gone through auditions and maybe even callbacks and now you've read the cast list. No matter what role has been chosen for you, you're going through a wave of emotions. You may be shaking and unable to concentrate on the words in front of you. You might have lost all hope already and are waiting for a surprise written on the wall for you. Maybe you've already burst into tears and refuse to talk to anyone. Truly, after the cast list is posted is when a theatre kid is most vulnerable.
   More often than not, you won't get that nice juicy lead. Sometimes you'll be put in the chorus. Not stuck in the chorus, put in the chorus. I want everyone to understand something. Theatre is a beast. There is no such thing as post cast list depression. If you think there is, you're being a drama queen. I'm not being insensitive. You might be thinking, Bailey, you're not the one stuck in the chorus. 
  Stop it. Just stop it. The negativity in your voice is unbearable. "Stuck"? Nobody is stuck in the chorus. If you can't handle being in the chorus, you need to walk out of the stage door right now. Maybe you'd be glad to walk out since you didn't get the role you wanted. If you're one of those closed minded people that quits everything because they don't get what they want, I'm glad you're walking out. I don't need that negativity in my life and neither does the rest of the hard working cast. 
  In my general opinion, everyone needs to be in the chorus at least twice in their life. They don't necessarily need to start there, but they need to go through the chorus. Theatre as a whole has made the chorus out to be "bad". Oh, if you aren't any good you'll be in the chorus. This pigeonhole has caused countless kids to drop theatre (which is a big mistake, if you quit after not getting a named role, the director will think to themselves, hmm, I guess they don't want to be in the show, they just want to be *insert name of role you wanted here*). The chorus is a learning experience that I wish I had understood far earlier into my high school theatre run. I fell under the impression that the only good people in the theatre were the leads and that if I wanted to be seen as talented, I had to be one of the leads. If I wanted to have a good time in the theatre, I needed to be one of the leads. If I wanted to be impressive, I needed I repertoire of starring roles under my belt. I'm going to tell you, that just doesn't happen (at least not regularly). What people don't realize is that the size of the role doesn't make the character. The size of the role doesn't make you have less or more of an experience. One of my favorite theatre memories is being a townsperson in Beauty and the Beast. It's my favorite musical that I've been apart of and I always wish I could go back to that organized chaos we made on stage. Group numbers are memorable to the audience, especially if there's a lot of quirky happenings going on. The audience has a smorgasbord of character developing things to look at. 
  Getting back to my point, the chorus is nothing to frown upon. The chorus is the base of the musical and without the chorus there's no magic. Think about every musical you've ever seen. In Beauty and the Beast, where would the magic be without the inanimate objects and the mob, tavern goers, the people in the town? What type of convent would Maria be in if she was the sole nun in The Sound of Music? King Triton wouldn't be king of any kingdom if there weren't any fish in The Little Mermaid. You need to have a strong base before the main roles can tell the rest of the story. If all of the group numbers are crap, the audience isn't going to be sitting very easy for the duration of your performance. There is no musical without the chorus and you can't truly appreciate the chorus until you're in it. 
  It can be very frustrating when you find yourself in the chorus show after show. The chorus does a lot of the work in the musical without much recognition and you have to settle for being a little selfless so you can graduate to a larger role with more recognition. That larger role might be a supporting role or even a lead. But please, don't get too big for your britches after you get one lead role or one really large supporting role. You might be setting yourself up for disappointment. Every show calls for different people in each lead role. Don't think that because you were put in one lead role, that the next one will just fall into your lap. Don't hate people for being more talented than you. Don't hate people for getting a bigger role than you. Don't hate your cast. Don't hate your director. That's one thing that people really get wrong in theatre. People can't "steal" a role from you, especially if the role wasn't either of yours to begin with. Back tracking to what I said earlier, there's no "post cast list depression". You can't mope around for being apart of a show, no matter what your role is. If you can't do your time in theatre, you need to change your attitude. Being in every show and having a solid audition doesn't guarantee you a large role. Every role requires different characteristics and talents. Sometimes the director wants to give a new person a chance to shine, and that's where you need to figure out your place. Personally, I've been in four musicals (going on five) and two plays. I've been in the chorus three (going on four) times with minor roles two (going on three) times. I've had three really great roles with a lot of solo time on me. I've done my time in the chorus and even so, I'm still doing my time in the chorus. I've gone from have a big juicy role to one line'rs. Although I think of myself as a dedicated actress, a lot of my roles in musicals are very small. I am not a serious singer. That gives me a severe disadvantage in musicals which take the spotlight over plays, the type of show I excel at. Although I'm not as good as my ego projects, I still make the most of my stage time. 
  In theatre, we get so caught up in the lead roles that we don't see the beauty in the other roles. We think that if we don't get the lead, we are nothing. That's not true. I recently went to see Chicago, and my favorite character, hands down, was the Jury. The Jury is one of the smallest roles in the show, but it was the most memorable for me. As a theatre kid, I really appreciated everything that went on during the show. I made sure to watch every character closely, even the supporting roles. The supporting roles can be some of the most difficult. They might not give you much to work with in the script. You might not have any lines at all in the script (that's happened to me!). If you are upset about whatever role you got, here's a reality check. Any person in the show, especially the people who didn't get a role at all, wants a named role. The director would be more than happy to sub in a chorus member to do the named role that you are ungrateful for. On a side note, don't piss off the director. The director holds your destiny in their hands during the course of time you spend with them. Be polite, helpful, respectful, and responsible, and your work will be paid off in the long run.
  You are equal to everyone in the cast no matter what role you are. You are not inferior for being in the chorus and you are not so much better just for being the leading lady. Be gracious about your role and everyone around you will benefit.




Short Hair, Don't Care

Short Hair, Don't Care

Featuring a heart warming narration of tales from my childhood, a short justification of my personality,  and an empowering conclusion 

Beckie's Creation, June 2016
  "Short Hair, Don't Care" should be the title for my autobiography. But seeing how long it took me to get around to writing this post, the world has a long, long time to wait before that hits the shelves. I recently got a hair cut that is the equivalent to a #6 combo at Taco Johns. It's awesome on the surface, and as you look longer, you find nuggets of awesome. My lovely hair master, Beckie, took my pixie cut to a new level. She shaved the sides for me and made me look a little more badass. I was long over due for a trim and when I walked in, I gave Beckie freedom to do whatever she wanted to my hair. Voila! The result looks wonderful. I've ventured into pixie cut territory I've never been in before. 

An Unamused Face, But Look at Those Bangs

A First Time for Everything  

  The first time I cut my hair drastically short was in sixth grade. I did not deserve my long blonde locks. I always wore my hair straight down, it never looked special. I never grew it more than a few inches past my shoulders. Needless, a change was needed. I had previously tried to reinvent my look. Sixth grade was a time when I was fascinated with emo people. I had never seen anything like them before. I was so inspired by their crazy hair, I ran to my hair stylist and asked her to give me asymmetrical bangs. Sixth grade Bailey had never processed the idea of using product in her hair so instead of looking like a wannabe emo, I looked like I had a rough run in with a pair of scissors. The bangs grew out to look really awesome though, so I don't regret it. In the spring of sixth grade, I decided to get a pixie cut. It wasn't really a pixie, but it was super close. I started to wear flowers in my hair around that time. I thought that pairing flowers with my pixie helped to maintain a feminine image. Middle school is a difficult time to cut your hair 'boy' short. People are very judgmental and will quickly put you down for anything drastically different in your appearance. The fact that I cut my hair as short as a guy's hair made me different. I already was considered different. I had a odd personality and I had a lot of drive to accomplish my goals, even then. A lot of people saw me as over the top and annoying. 

Is that Miley? 

 In seventh grade, I started to play around with my style. I bought a pair of teal jeans. I was still interested in alternative culture but I ventured away from emos. I quickly learned that I wasn't an emo. I had started to listen to the group Bright Eyes. I loved how raw Conor Oberst's voice was and how he used words to make sadness beautiful. I found myself listening to indie and alternative music as a result. My style didn't fully take off until eighth grade, but nonetheless, people saw me as different. My ability to accessorize was foreign to the sea of students I went to school with everyday who were still figuring out who they are. 
  Kids have this supernatural ability to find the odd one out. A girl in my class informed me that some boys thought I walked funny. The boys would imitate my 'strut' when I left the room. My self confidence was noticeable, and that bothered people. My confidence still bothers people to this day. I was picked on for knowing what I wanted to do with my life. "Popular" boys would sit on my desk and ask me if their outfit was fashionable. Now, even then, I didn't take any bull. I would honestly tell them my opinion. It probably only encouraged them more. In seventh grade, I cut my hair like Emma Watson. The Emma Watson pixie was pretty simple; I didn't take it as short as she did in the beginning. I opted for a grown out version of her hair cut. Armed with my flowers, I continued to dress how I wanted to. I was standing in the lunch line with one of my friends, and a terrible boy turned around. He started to call me Miley (this was around the time that Miley Cyrus cut her hair into a pixie) and the boy asked me if I was into girls. I was appalled. What was I supposed to say to that? I was obviously not Miley Cyrus and my first crush was on a boy named Josh in kindergarten! I grew angry that he thought because I cut my hair short, I was into girls. Hair length and sexuality don't really coincide. I felt anger that could only be released in a blog post although I didn't start seriously blogging for a few more years.
  Just today, I was thinking about middle school. As I write this post, I'm wearing my old middle school jazz band tee shirt. Jazz band was not cool in middle school and I had been a member for two years. Now, I love jazz music and I always have. Jazz music brings an energy to the room that another genre of music cannot produce. Again, middle school kids are cruel, not accepting, and stuck in their own world where putting another kid down puts off someone else doing the same to them. I distinctly remember walking down the hallway to the band room with my friend. We were on our way to set up for our big Christmas jazz performance. The jazz band would perform for all of the lunch hours before Christmas break. I had changed into my jazz band tee shirt and a girl and her friend said something along the lines of, you better hurry to jazz band. They said the words 'jazz band' in such a mocking tone. I felt like I had run into a wall. What was wrong with jazz band? It was actually a huge accomplishment to be in jazz band. You auditioned to get into a group so that you could learn a tricky and technical style of music at 13 years old. Those kids didn't see it that way. They saw a group of kids who were different and enjoyed making music in a style that wasn't popular. Jazz kids all around aren't popular to begin with, so that didn't really help the situation. You don't really see many star basketball players improvising a jazz solo, right? But, really, what's wrong with a group of kids putting their soul into four jazz numbers? I never saw a problem with being in jazz band. Sure, all of the kids in the group were bizarre in their own way, myself included. But, the actual act of jazz band had nothing wrong with it. We played our set and took in the applause. I had a solo or two that day and I couldn't help but think of the 'populars' while I pointed the bell of my saxophone into the microphone. Those "popular" boys from before shouted my name, but it wasn't encouraging, I knew the meaning. It rolled like water off of my back, yet, I still remember it. I remember ranting about it in my diary. Why did they feel the need to mockingly compliment me? And it wasn't only me that they did this to. They'd call out introverted kids that didn't want to be bothered and harmlessly talk to them. The tone of their voice in these chats was not harmless, it was mocking and degrading. Why did these boys do this? It's not showing dominance, it's show how much of an idiot those boys are. Instead of putting their energy toward something that they would benefit from, they chose to be jerks to kids who weren't the societal norm of 'popular' or 'normal'. But, being an individual can be hard sometimes, right? 

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