Hello, everyone! My name is Matt Johnson. I am a sophomore Theatre Arts major with a focus in acting from Elmhurst, IL. You might recognize me as a member of the Blog Team. Additionally, I've also been part of our Public Outreach and a Stage Manager for one of our four shows.
I know I'm supposed to update the world as to everything I've been up to recently and share my own experiences. but before I get into that, I really want to take a moment and share with you all what I've had the honor of seeing that no one else here could write about. From day one I have always considered myself an actor. I've always been under the lights so when I injured my foot in the first week here, I knew right then that I was going to see the beauty of theatre in a new light.
I have never been a stage manager before. I took on a role that was entirely new to me and in my opinion that's exactly what this two week course was all about: doing something I've never done before. And I have to say, it's been a really rewarding decision. I've been able to sit in rehearsals with my cast and watch them grow as their character and also as actors and people as they worked with their respective director.
We've had three shows now and each one has been a unique experience. With the way our production is set up, I am also Run Crew, which means I help change the sets in between the plays. Because of this, I spend a lot of time backstage with the rest of the cast and the company that isn't in the house working sound or lights. Now that I've got you to this point, I want to share with you some of the things I've been able to see that no one else can.
To start, there's all the built up excitement and adrenaline running through the cast backstage before the show even begins. I know what that's like because I'm usually one of those people with all the nerves preparing myself for the first entrance, but this time I get to take a deep breath and live off of all the excitement radiating from everyone else.
The other thing no one else gets to see is the playwrights while their play is being performed onstage. I have to say watching them listen to their own creation while it is performed in front of a live audience has been a really heartfelt moment. The gleam in their eyes and the genuine smile when one of their jokes is well-received or when they can tell the audience is enjoying their piece is a really special thing to see. But also to see their reaction when something isn't going quite as well as they hoped for is sad. Even though it isn't my play, I sympathize with their feelings and cheer silently with them when it's going well. I think that goes along with the company as a whole.
All of us want to see everyone succeed and see a great turnout for everything we've worked for. The entire time we've been here, we've all supported each other and even now during the performances themselves, we're all still backstage rooting each other on and hoping our audience will enjoy our final product just as much as we have the last two weeks. That feeling has a strong place in my heart. I've never been a part of something before with a group of people as large as this where every single person was simply 100% in love with what they were doing and was dedicated to the work and to each other.
I guess that brings me to what I've been up to aside from admiring everyone else. Even though I didn't act this time around, I am still performing in the show in a way I never dreamed I would. In between each play there is a musical act from other students not in the next show. I brought up my harmonica on the off-chance that it might be useful for something or just for fun at night when we keep ourselves entertained after our sessions are over for the day. It turned out that our Musical Director, Daniel Vinitsky, was very interested in fitting a harmonica into one of the acts. So in addition to Run Crew, I am stepping aside for one transition to perform a song with Erik Morrison on banjo.
I have to confess, this is the first time I have ever played an instrument in front of an audience. I only bought a harmonica and started learning how to play it over this summer, so I'm still very new at it and the positive reactions to our musical number has been reassuring and confidence boosting. Again, it's an aspect of the art of theatre and live performances that I have never done before
I always loved theatre and the stage and everything that makes it what it is, but now I know so much more than I did before, I've made my instrumental debut, and had the honor of working with a group of people behind the scenes and partaking in all the excitement and joy that goes on that people don't get to see or hear about. I knew when I signed up to be a part of this that I was signing myself up for a challenge that would put my love for theatre to the test and force me to question if devoting my life to this life was the right decision. It's been tough, don't get me wrong. The business side of theatre is not easy, but it is so worth it when people come together to create something beautiful. I can say without a doubt that taking on this new role has allowed me to fall in love with the world of theatre all over again.