Friday, January 11, 2013

Life with Tourettes in the Theatre Chapter 5

"Noises" off.

I got into theatre at what I call a "late" age. I was in highschool and fell in love with the theatre from the first show that our drama club did. After that I wanted to be in that room as many times as possible. I didn't care what I was doing I volunteered for it all. I helped build sets, I ushered, I took tickets, I tried to do everything that I could to help out. I even auditioned for just about every show that they did, even if I knew that I had no chance of getting a part. For some reason I loved the theatre from the get-go as a place where magic was being created. I was just happy sweeping floors watching the people work onstage. There was something special about "magic in rehearsal".

It was after a few times working backstage that I got what I thought was the "dream job", handing out the props backstage. I worked both sides of the stage, when an actor got off the stage and needed a prop for their next scene I was already there ready to hand it off to them. I loved it! It was perfect for my OCD as I organized every little thing, made a place for every prop on my table and planned every movement to be faster. The actors loved me for being fast and unintrusive while they were concentrating. Also it was the first place where my Tourettes went virtually unnoticed. Theatre people are by nature weirdos and so one extra one hanging around wasn't such a big deal. For once I felt like I was a part of something. I had friends for the first time and I was doing something that I really loved.

Until the dreadful day arrived. We were just finished with a show and we were cleaning up when the director, our theatre teacher, walked up to me. She told me that she was very sorry that it had to be this way but that my Tourettes was able to be heard from the audience and that because of that I was going to have to be replaced. I was moved to a different job and two people had to replace me. I went home and cried for the entire weekend. I was so stoked at being involved in the theatre and and it devastated it that my disability kept me from doing it. I was summarily banned from the backstage after that. I was exiled to being an usher and while I got to act onstage once I was told that if my Tourettes got in the way I was going to be replaced again. My teacher even went further to say that my disability would keep me from doing anything in the theatre and that I shouldn't bother studying it to college.

This really hurt me. And it took me forever to get over the debilitating words of one teacher that I really admired and respected her opinion. I eventually got back behind the stage in college and eventually got on the stage again as an actor. But it took FOREVER for me to get the confidence back. 

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