Originally published in Foster Home Journal
This month we invited another one of our members to share their experiences with SMCT. Meet Amelia Votta, in her own words…
I began my theater journey in 2008 when I was in eighth grade. I had always been outgoing, and “dramatic” if you will, so theater seemed like a good fit. While I did not quite nail my audition for a part in the middle school play, I did land one of the smallest roles in the show. Fast forward two weeks… I was suddenly thrown into the second lead role – not because anyone had changed their minds about my audition, but because the original actress was unable to make all of the required rehearsals, and I could. I will never forget the director turning to me a week or so before we were due to open and telling me that he was really nervous when he substituted me into the role, but that I had done really well.
When that show ended, summer break was right around the corner and I caught the theater bug. A few of my cast mates were telling me about a summer play put on by a local community theater, and that I should audition. That local group happened to be none other than Swamp Meadow Community Theater! For my audition, I performed my monologue from the middle school show (I had that one down by heart). I chose to audition for a few of the smaller roles, as I was new to the community and didn’t want to appear presumptuous. After my audition, one member of the audition panel asked me why I had not asked to be considered for any of the larger roles. I explained my reasoning and they had me do a cold read for the lead! It was at that moment I really felt like maybe theater was going to become an ongoing home for me after all, or at the very least, a passion that would be good for my self-esteem and overall sense of self.
I landed the role of Lily, the King’s head maid, in the production Sheherezade. It was second largest female role. That summer I made so many new friends. I got to explore a side of myself that none of my other hobbies really indulged. I look back fondly at that summer as one of the best ever. I was spending two nights a week at buggy Woody Lowden Recreation Center, practicing inside, and outside on the track, and laughing on the playground when we had breaks. Something about that summer was life-changing in a way I can’t quite describe.
I went on to do more shows in school, but I always enjoyed my Swamp Meadow shows the most. There was something about being in a place that was solely devoted to theater, with other people who loved theater just as much. People who loved breaking down words and characters just as much. Theater is special; it really causes you to look at characters, how they act, how they feel, their motivations… something I not only took to college with me, but also into the real world.
I was in one more show, MacBeth, before I aged out of the summer Children’s theater, and moved on to do other shows within the main theater program, including Get Merry, Get Merry: The Royal Wedding, Rumours, and the Realistic Joneses. Theater has a way of finding me when I need a pick me up, or a realignment of inner self. All of these shows were there for me in some fairly difficult times and reminded me things both about myself, and the world around me that I really needed to hear. I think overall theater can really help you grow as a person if you let it. It utilizes different parts of your brain and personality that are just refreshing, and honestly critical to our mental and emotional health. I think when we invest ourselves, we end up gaining new perspectives, new ideas, and generally a new outlook on people, life, and specific situations.
Joining SMCT helped me really identify my love of storytelling; I knew I loved to write, however acting showed me new ways in which I could tell stories and create characters. I chose to write and direct a play for my high school senior project mentored by one of Swamp Meadows most well-known directors, Bob Hollis. I then made the decision to study FILM/MEDIA at the University of Rhode Island as an undergraduate. I am grateful for the large part Swamp Meadow has played in my personal growth over the years. I look forward to what my future with them holds. If you are reading this and looking for something new to put your energy into, something that can provide a welcoming and supportive environment, and new friends along the way – I enthusiastically recommend Swamp Meadow Community Theatre. You should give it a try! You will see just how much more theater is than saying words on a stage.