I was given the opportunity to speak at the International Thesbian Society Induction ceremony on Monday, May 9, 2016. Below is what I had to share.
First of all thank you for asking me to speak with you today. I was very surprised and humbled to have been given this opportunity. When I think back to my time in high school, many of the memories that I still treasure are rooted in this hollowed space.
I played many roles on this stage: a rookie baseball player in Damn Yankees, a dancing plate in Beauty and the Beast, an assortment of characters in A Guy’s Guide, and a pimp in Les Mis—clearly I was one of the star actors. The role that I enjoyed playing the most, however, was that of friend.
When I came to St. X as a freshman, I was awkward, shy, and relatively quiet. In fact when I auditioned for my first play, I distinctly remember Ms. Reisert standing at the foot of the stage regularly reminding me that she couldn’t hear what I was saying. Overtime that changed, and theater became more than just a place to recite lines and choreograph large fight scenes. This place became a space where I felt welcomed and comfortable. Like many of you, I bet you remember your first time in Circle, curled up in a ball, looking around and thinking, “Why are all these seniors crying, this is just an extracurricular activity, right?”
As the years carried on, Circle became more intimate. The intentions become more personal and the squeezes lasted a little bit longer. From the athlete who finally had the courage to audition his junior or senior year, to the student who has been in shows since grade school, theater is truly a place for everyone. Theater became less of an extracurricular activity and more of a family. Theater became a place where I could forget about myself for a few moments and love the people around me. The friendships that are formed in this place truly represent the brotherhood that is possible here at St. X. To this day, five of my closest friends still gather together to come watch the shows, laugh about the things we did, didn’t do…or got away with… There is something special about coming back to watch a performance to see that one freshman finally get a starring part, hear a line from an old show, or sing “Buttercup” as the seniors exit the theater after their final bow.
Let us remember, that theater is magic, and that magic has the power to transform both the audience, and the cast and crew. Whether you’re standing in a Jury Room, Haunted Mansion, working Day by Day in Godspell or, watching magical Teletubbies in Mid-Summer: The talents you possess are gifts from God and the way you have used those talents during your time here at St. X are your gifts back to God. From taking notes for someone’s blocking while they’re standing in JUG, or covering for a missed line in the middle of a performance, to celebrating together at cast parties and Presidential Balls, your gifts have unfolded in countless ways. You have all been blessed with the opportunity to be here at St. X, and for the rest of your life that will continue to carry you far. Whether you decide to grace the stage again or not, the values of the Saint Xavier High School Theater Program and the International Thespian Society will help you in more ways than you can know today.
When you look back on your time here, no longer are you that shy quiet freshman, but someone who has gained confidence, found your voice, discovered who you are, and made some friends along the way. Because of who you were on this stage, in the tech shop, dressing rooms, and in these seats, people have laughed here, cried here, and loved here. The people who you have chosen to spend your time at Saint Xavier High School with have hopefully become your family, and this place has hopefully become home.
For many of you, the lights have faded, the final curtain called, and the final bow taken. The parts you have played are now roles in the past, but the legacy of those memories will remain written with the people who will come after you.
By joining this society, you accepted a role of leadership long held, cherished and remembered by the many that have gone before you. You have been fully immersed in the long-lived tradition of thespians, friends, and most of all family. With this role you have the privilege, responsibility, and joy to live, laugh and love every moment as if it were your last.
Now the only that role that matters, is the role that you play in the lives of those around you.