The Mind of a Millennial Theatre Kid

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Real Life Stories

I’ve alluded to it several times. It’s the reason why funding for the arts means as much to me as it does. It’s been an outlet for my extreme, sensitive emotions. As I described when I opened up about life as an only child, I care about theatre more than I ever cared about my less than impressive stint on the soccer field. And it will always be my first love.

But having spent my entire life as a so-called “theatre kid,” my mind can’t help but sometimes think about theatre even when it’s not necessarily called for. I started participating in theatre in elementary school, and the obsession progressed all the way to adulthood and involvement in community theatre.

So, without further ado, I’m about to give you an all-access pass into the head of a millennial theatre kid. Or adult. Whichever you prefer.

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Your timelines for any and all memories are based on shows
No, I’m not talking about Broadway — I’m talking about the shows you were in over the course of your entire theatrical life. Forget about “in my freshman year I was in Bye Bye Birdie and then in my junior year I was in Anything Goes.” Oh, no. It goes far beyond that. The phrases “I learned to drive and my little cousin was born while I was doing Grease,” “The first show I stage managed after I moved back home after I worked in Disney World was Steel Magnolias,” “I met my best friend during Seussical summer,” and even “I was in Beauty and the Beast when #NAMB first started” have all come out of my mouth.

A large portion of your social media is taken up by theatre
Luckily, this is social media you can keep clean for your job hunt; but from show promos to show photos to show quotes to audition notices, your social media channels are often filled with all things theatre.

You remember specific lines –- and sometimes, they become inside jokes forever
In 2015 I starred in a murder mystery farce titled The Butler Did It. The line “But… Portrait!” was repeated ad nauseam during a particular scene. Needless to say, my theatre friends and I still use the phrase “But… Portrait!” when it works in context… and nearly two years later, it’s still funny.

You think in terms of theatre
I once heard a story in which one of the people involved in the narrative was acting fairly dramatic, at least from my perspective. Where did my mind go? I imagined this person in a Shakespearian costume reciting the same narrative as though giving a soliloquy on a stage. To an audience.


Some of your most embarrassing moments have taken place on stage… or backstage
Needless to say, your theatre kid mind never forgets those moments. Like that time I knocked down a paper plant during an exit in the middle of Peter Pan… and then picked it up on my way off stage. Or the time that fake smoke flooded my lungs during final dress rehearsal for The Female Odd Couple, causing me to cough my way into my next line.

You’ve left personal belongings at the theatre
During tech week –- or, as we affectionately refer to it, Hell Week — better known as the week before the show, you pretty much live at the theatre. After leaving the theatre at 1 a.m. for nights on end, only to have to get up in five hours, go to work and return again the following evening… it’s understandable that I’d even forget my iPad there.

You’ve had theatre dreams…
… particularly ones involving forgetting lines and lines of dialogue during the “real show,” but in actuality, it wasn’t time for the “real show” yet. It was still a whole week away.

Whether you want it to be or not, whether you’re in a show or you’re not, theatre is and will always be a part of you
And you’ll never forget what your first time singing a solo on stage by yourself, in character, in front of hundreds of people felt like. Because it will always be one of the greatest — and most frightening — moments of your entire life.

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