Originally published in Foster Home Journal
This month we invited one of our members to share their experiences with SMCT. Meet Audrey Dubois, in her own words…
I first joined Swamp Meadow Community Theatre in 2008 as an ensemble member in Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights. At the time, I was an unsociable middle schooler who best operated alone and could barely look anyone in the eye. This one show did not fully crack open my shell, but over the course of my time with SMCT, I have become someone that my 11-year-old self wouldn’t even recognize.
Acting is not just pretending to be something you’re not. It is an exercise in empathy. I approach a character, who I think is nothing like me, and find something that we have in common. My favorite role was Jennifer in the tragic comedy “The Realistic Joneses” by Will Eno. The character is married to a man with a terminal illness. Though I’ve never gone through that particular scenario myself, I have certainly felt commitment and sadness and hopelessness. I let myself access those emotions I usually push to the side. I immerse myself in someone else’s life. I perform.
And in acting, I’m permitted to experience the height of every emotion in a way that reality doesn’t allow. I hit the table in anger; I double over in laughter; I cry into my hands. These private, internal feelings become externalized: a new form of communication. This empathy extends beyond the bounds of fiction. I embody memories and emotions that aren’t mine, and I can understand them all better for it.
Lately my roles have been more offstage than on: stage manager, director, communications officer. I want to facilitate that opportunity to make connections for everyone, not just those in school for drama, not just those pursuing theatre professionally. Accessible local arts programs may not sell out every show, but in this case, the process is just as important as the finished product.
Putting together a show is the artistic equivalent of a barn-raising. Everyone pools their unique skills into creating one singular experience. The cast and crew are all different ages, genders, personalities, and talents, but we all have a goal in common. Every single person is vital to the process, from Ensemble Member #4 to the folks manning the concession stand. We choose to put our faith in everyone else. It’s impossible to do everything by myself; I need to trust other people to have my back. The mere act of existing in a supportive network like this both comforts me and fills me with purpose.
Community theatre has taught me much more than just how to perform. Swamp Meadow has changed the way I think about and interact with other people. And even though SMCT’s spring and summer shows can’t be performed this year, the community is still there, and we’re here for each other, armed with laughs and ambition and understanding and love.