Confessions of a long retired theatre kid

Like many others, I was encouraged by my parents growing up to try numerous activities to see which one “stuck.” For me, this activity happened to be theatre.

Bronte Behling

Being a homeschooled kid, I began my journey acting in numerous community productions alongside productions put on by the homeschool group I was a part of (yes, this was a thing).

From Templeton the rat in Charlotte’s Web to Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz, the roles I had the opportunity to play were numerous and varied.

Of them, my favorite was getting to play Mary Hatch Bailey in a production of It’s a Wonderful Life – even though my life at the time wasn’t that wonderful due to the extreme teen angst I was facing in my personal life as a 15-year-old. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Growing up as a theatre kid produces mixed results. While it helped my public speaking skills and pushed me to explore the depths of my psyche (I could write a whole article on whether underaged individuals should be allowed to do devised theatre), I was also at my least confident.

Despite the fact that I enjoyed being on stage, I didn’t fit in with the theatre kid community. I was quiet, unsure of myself, and desperate to please. Mix that with the perils of growing up and discovering your sexuality, and it’s an absolute mess.

This didn’t lead to me having many friends or thinking that anyone genuinely liked me. While I understand this is a normal feeling for a preteen, going through these growing pains while being surrounded by extroverts makes them even more dramatic to go through (no pun intended).

It is my belief that signing up to be a theatre kid should come with a warning – prepare to be humbled and (hopefully) you’ll come away with mostly positive feelings about your experience. At the very least, you’ll have good public speaking skills.

Looking back now, I can appreciate that the things I went through helped me discover who I am today at 23.

The world is filled with extroverts, and now I know how to deal with them and even take on their energy when I need to.

I’ve taken on many “roles” in my life since I retired from doing theatre. Every role, at school and in the workplace, has required some amount or form of performance.

Without having undergone the perils of being a theatre kid, would I be as equipped as I now am to manage them? Probably not. I’d still be the shy kid I once was, waiting for her chance.

After all, according to the great William Shakespeare, “all the world’s a stage.”

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