Growing through Theatre

How Swamp Meadow Shaped My Life

by Emma Capron

When I auditioned for my first role at Swamp Meadow Community Theatre, I was a gawky girl of eleven. The show was Matthias of Redwall. After my audition, I was cast as the role of Methuselah, a wizened old mouse. That summer I learned not only my part, but also many essential tools for acting. I grew greatly as an actress, but I grew even more as a person. After that show, I continued to be an active part of Swamp Meadow. Each time I participated in a show, I found myself growing into an even better actress. My character also continued to grow, and I built lasting friendships along the way. In so many ways, being a part of Swamp Meadow has changed me and shaped me into the person I am today.

I have often asked myself how a community theatre could mold my character in the transformative way it has. There wasn’t just one way Swamp Meadow has changed me; it was a combination of so many things. It’s a complex circle of characteristics that have helped me to grow and change myself.

First of all, there were the shows themselves. The script of every show in which I have ever participated at Swamp Meadow has taught me a valuable lesson. In shows like Matthias of Redwall and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I learned about honor, and how good will always overcome evil. I learned how to be a good friend from Charlotte’s Web. Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights taught me that stories are powerful, and sometimes the best weapon you can have is your mind. I learned from The Wizard of Oz that family is extremely important, and there really is no place like home. All these shows taught me how to navigate life through their themes and characters. However, that’s just one of the many puzzle pieces in the complex jigsaw of my relationship with community theatre.

Teamwork is another factor of Swamp Meadow that has helped to turn me into a better person. The core of the entire theatre is teamwork. Whenever a show is put on, no one person is responsible for making the show a success or failure. From leading players to lighting assistants to the people who add a last minute adjustment to a costume, everyone plays a role in a show’s success. Everything runs like a finely-tuned machine because the people at Swamp Meadow know how to work together. Being a part of Swamp Meadow taught me that everyone is a part of the process, and to succeed, one must be willing to be a team player.

Perhaps one of the most important ways that Swamp Meadow has been able to change me has come through the participants. Never in my life have I ever met so many wonderful people in one place. Everyone who I have met at Swamp Meadow has in some way been a force of good in my life. The volunteers who participate in the theatre are good-hearted people, who work hard to produce something wonderful. They are thoughtful, encouraging, and dedicated. The directors of each show always organize a cast party in which every member of the entire cast and crew is recognized and thanked for their part. This unconditional gratitude is something I have only ever experienced at Swamp Meadow. I have been able to join Swamp Meadow’s productions on and off throughout the years, and there are perpetually people who care about me regardless of how long it’s been. The people at Swamp Meadow are like a family, and they’ve shared their love and goodness with me.

Humility is a lesson I have learned from Swamp Meadow that has helped to shape me. I learned early on that everyone in a show is important, and no one member of a team is better than another. In every show I have been a part of, starring roles and the parts with no lines at all are treated with equal importance. Also, no one is guaranteed a starring role just because they’ve had one before. Casting is based on who fits a role best. Anyone can come in and have a chance to any part. Being a part of this community has constantly reminded me that no one is better than anyone else. Life is about being the best you can be, not simply “the best.”

Lastly, I believe that Swamp Meadow has made me a truly better person because of the hard work it has taught me. Throughout the course of my time at Swamp Meadow, I have had to work very hard whenever I am a part of a show. There are long hours of rehearsals, lines to learn, and improvements to be made. Tech week requires the team to run the play constantly, in addition to hours dedicated at home. So much work goes in to making each play a success. Slacking off is not permitted. From participating in these productions, I learned that the best way to succeed at something is dedication.

I am sure that if I continued to muse over how Swamp Meadow has made me into a better person, I could come up with an even longer list. There are so many things about Swamp Meadow that have made it a strong and positive force in my life. It has been years since I was that gawky little girl who auditioned for Matthias of Redwall, a hyperactive child who was looking for a fun summer activity. I did get my fun experience, but that summer, I began my time with a theatre that would influence who I would ultimately become.