Finished up a whirlwind of a week last night. And we finished it with a bang. A rocking sellout crowd who were moved and entertained by the young actors of The Road Less Traveled Players. What a privilege it is for me to lead and write for a group of talented, growing actors and performers like that!
Yes, these are high school students. But that is the last thing I have in my mind when I write, direct, and prepare them for the stage. I don’t write for high school students. I write for actors who want to engage their audience, who want to reach across barriers, who want to explore complex themes, who want to express authentic human emotion, who want to do more than antics and empty theatrics. I work with actors, not high school students.
Why do I say this?
I think there is a certain connotation when describing an amateur school production. After all, it’s simply meant to entertain the kids’ parents. It’s just a platform for someone to show off what they learned. Even one of the Malaysian organizations that reviews and gives awards to dramatic productions clearly states that school productions are not eligible to be reviewed. I’m assuming its because the quality? Perhaps?
But, in my mind, The RLT Players are different. They are exuberant on stage. They take drama seriously. They take comedy seriously. After the shows, I’ve heard endless comments such as: “That was emotional!”, “Brilliant!”, “It not only entertained, it gave me something to think about”, “I hope the people I brought heard the message”, “amazing”, “touching”, etc … Of course, I am very humbled by responses such as this, but I’m not surprised. I sat in rehearsals getting chocked up every time when Jessie and Jackie were working their lines in “I Once Was Blind.” Chilling and exhilarating at the same time.
That is what I love about live theater. It has the ability to reach human emotions in a unique way. It has the ability to elicit meaningful conversations on life-changing topics. I had someone, not connected to our school, tell me “I’m so happy to see someone dealing with difficult topics such as suicide. This is what we need. Dialogue and discussion.” Beautiful.
Others loved the ridiculous nature of the silly “The Giant Squid that Ate Georgetown.” What made it work is Lexi’s ability to actually act like she was a sailboat. That allowed Joseph to be a squid. And yes, it sounds ridiculous, but it was hilarious with a simple message of ‘there are not limits on good deeds.’
And David singing in “Captured in Time and Space” about living a life alone without the human touch. How many people go through life today wanting connection, but having none? Far too many. We have cut ourselves off. And so they cried to the heavens, “Where you want me to go? What you want me to say? I can’t go alone.” We all need help. We all need each other.
And that is, in essence, what the Road Less Traveled Players is all about.
I’m so proud of what they have accomplished and how far we have come. Yes, there is room for growth, as always. But in my view, if you missed the show this weekend, you missed not the potentiality of a group of high school students, you missed the opportunity to be moved by a group of maturing actors.
RLT Players Season 4: Coming in 2014