The Return

Prompt: The ways in which individuals deal with the prospect of an uncertain future.

Thesis: Individuals fear the prospect of an uncertain future; therefore, individuals will oftentimes cling to their sense of certainty which exists in the past to escape this fear. However, when individuals come to accept that the uncertain future is inevitable, this becomes the drive to search for a light, a wisdom, and/or a moral center to guide them through the uncertainties and their fear.

Prompt: About My Father’s Plot to Get Home

Curtain call. We run on stage to take our final bows. The brilliant lights are hateful to my eyes and I quickly hide into the back row of the ensemble members. A tiresome show shrouded with irrational lights and strobes and pompous music. We receive an applause from the audience, consisting of mainly our family members, paying for this program, then paying again to see their child in the show. I barely bow, feeling extremely mundane in my surrounding environment. I have practiced how to do a stage smile hundreds of times in a mirror, after being told that my smile was ugly and did not compliment the scenes that I was in. The practice did me very well at this time, as I had learned to put on a fabulous, gleaming smile of falseness – gladness filled me when I realized that this was all ending.

My dream was to become a successful performing actor. I wanted everything that I did not have; I envied every actor that I saw that were living off of the money made through pursuing theatre. There was no hesitation; I had to reach the top. I had to take my steps to become successful. I saw no uncertainty in my future, as I knew that this was the only thing I longed for. Therefore, when an opportunity came in my way to step closer into the world of professional theatre, I gladly took it and aced my audition for the theatre company’s 2019-2020 season.

Suddenly thrust into a community of soon-to-be actors of the next generation, I found myself in a whirlwind of greed and competition. As I began to meet these new actors, I recognized that they were not here to perform a show, but were rather there to become the new favorite actor of the well-known director. I was soon alone in my journey to perform a show and found myself lost amongst the perpetual greed that surrounded me. Other actors noticed how aloof I was in this community-they took it upon themselves as a duty to exploit me and to invade my process of learning in this experience. No one would speak to me, others would buy cast mates lunches and tell me that they were sorry for forgetting me, others went so far as to steal various costume pieces and open large gashes in my shoes, causing my fall and my horribly sprained ankle.

Was this what theatre was going to be like? Was this truly what I had longed for? Why did I even like theatre anyway? Suddenly all the certainty that I had created crumbled into dust. The uncertainty of my future of pursuing performing arts struck a blow so hard in my heart, I lost sight of what I had valued. I was so scared of this uncertainty, the fact that this may not be what I wanted in my life, I decided to turn a blind eye to it. I decided to veil all the nefarious acts that I experienced and I blew up the positive experiences out of proportion. I told myself about all the hard work that I had put into that experience and how pitiful it would be to think of the experience negatively. This allowed me to grasp on to a certain kind of past-the past me, who pursued Performing Arts for the sake of it, and to turn my eyes away from what I had truly experienced, which allowed me to escape from my fear and of my uncertainties.

I stare into a screen, titled Theatre Resume, filled with each and every detail of my shows, experiences, classes, and references. I quickly finish editing my resume and I copy and paste it to my audition form. Time flies by-the season for auditions for the 2020-2021 season has already begun.

Feeling rushed, I filled in my basic info quickly and all there was left to do was to click send, which would secure me an audition slot. All I had left to do was a tiny click, but my fingers on the mouse froze and my body stopped functioning for a moment as the memories flashed back into my conscience. These memories of greed and hatred that put me in turmoil, that blinded me of my endeavors, all flew back and thus came the fear. Was this what I truly wanted? I thought that I knew exactly why I wanted this for myself, as this was my next step in my journey to become a successful actor. But I came face to face with the fear yet again, the fear of the uncertainties of my future, of what I may have to endure once again to achieve my dream. Before, I was able to be blind to my experiences and turn away from what caused my uncertainties-I was able to look at only the positive experiences that I had, to exclaim “I’ve worked so hard,” as if to prove that my time was truly purposeful towards my greater goal.

That did not matter. The future looked at me with the eyes of dominance and fear stemming from its uncertainty and drew a step closer to me each and every day, becoming clearer and clearer with every step it took. It soon became impossible to ignore what I had to face-it was as if all the uncertainties of the world had struck me with blunt force. Such a force that one experiences when at the summit of a mountain, a force that one experiences when a drought strikes after the last drops of rainfall, a force that one experiences when they see their own vulnerable child for the first time, then taking his arm and setting out on a journey. This force of uncertainties took me by surprise.

I sat there, still, in awe of what I had just encountered. I couldn’t move out of my chair nor sleep at all; I was terribly confused about what I wanted to do. Did I want to risk being exploited again by my cast mates in order to step closer to my dream? Or do I forfeit the audition and throw away my opportunity to improve?

It was then when I was terribly tired and miserable that I realized that I needed to propel myself out of this situation of fear and submission. It felt as if something in me snapped; I no longer felt miserable to the truth that I was faced with uncertainties of my future. I accepted it, I welcomed it, and I decided to deal with it. My uncertainty lied in my doubts-I did not know if I should put myself in that theatre company again. I did not know if competing with other actors was what I longed to do. I did not know why I loved theatre. These uncertainties clouded my perspectives and disconnected me from finding my goal – how can one guide oneself down a mountain, or replenish their thirst in a drought, or raise their child with uncertainty? Thus began my search to vanquish my fear of the uncertainties of the future. It was an expedition to find my home; my fundamental reason for loving theatre.

It was also this time when I was rehearsing for a show, relatively smaller in size than others shows, but expoundly greater in its passion to produce a show of quality. Everyday, after school would have ended, my cast and I would stay late to run lines, block scenes, discuss lighting and sound, and form our vision of the play piece by piece. Every person in the cast contributed to the designing of this play; the play took wing and soared higher and higher with every rehearsal we had.

I was confused. I didn’t know what was right to believe in. I didn’t know what my future held, and was more than ever scared as I had to make a decision in the present that dictated my uncertain future – the application for the audition. Thus I was driven to find why I loved performing arts to clear away the fear and the uncertainties that were brought on to me.

Late Friday afternoon, my bones were aching from all the standing that we had been doing, blocking our scenes one by one. A tedious process increased our level of frustration. Then came a moment when each cast member had a small yet defining misconception of the interpretation of the play, causing a significant ripple in our chemistry during rehearsal. No matter what we did, it did not feel united as we all had different intentions for different scenes. My directors were quick to discover this within the cast and called a short break succeeded by a meeting. What started out as a timid conversation about Needs and Wants, soon became a lively debate upon the true intentions of scenes and how they complimented the overall thesis of the play. When I saw the pleasure bursting out in each of our faces as we collectively felt the joy of team effort and mutual love for the work, I recognized my definite love for theatre. It was nothing special but a heated debate that made me realize the light that had been shining all along that I had to follow. In this dim-lit classroom, sleepily lay all the wisdom that I had been seeking to find. This heartfelt process in which humans emphasize with another story, different from their own, to portray the mesmerizing uprisings and gut-wrenching downfalls-the joy of this, of portraying what it means to be human, is what I had valued in performing arts. It wasn’t the fame, the recognition, or anything else, but the honest and genuine expression of life on stage that I loved.

Returning to my room near midnight that day, I was no longer irrationally afraid of the uncertainties that the future held. I was no longer controlled by fear induced by my uncertainty of my path with performing arts as now I had a clear reason why I do performing arts and why I love it from the bottom of my heart. It was no struggle to quickly delete my application for an audition for the theatre company, with all the pleasure bursting out of my face.

I am still uncertain of my future nonetheless, and I still fear the thought of not knowing what may happen. I am not sure as to how I can pursue this career and prevail in the competitions, or if I want to pursue it professionally at all. However, I know that by embracing this uncertainty and this fear of the future, by accepting it and acknowledging it, I am able to realize my fundamental reason for why I loved performing arts so much and I will never cease to move forward into the future as long as I face my uncertain future with honesty. To me, the uncertainties of the future becomes my drive to return to what I sincerely believe in.

And it will not matter if I face obstacles again in my path of life – not even death has the capability to steal this joy of profound wisdom within my heart. It will beam from my face when I struggle, when I triumph, and when I die. I have found a home.

Curtain call. We can barely make out the audience as they applaud as the wash has nearly blinded us after many runs of our show. And we hold hands to bow, knowing that we will never return again on stage together as we did here, in this moment, all the more adding to the beauty of this scene. And I smile the brightest smile, tainted by tears; our expound love for our art and our cast shared with each other…

Who knows what will come next? I might pull a stage smile, or a tearful smile-I might laugh, I might cry. But I do know that the future ahead of me, all the uncertainties and the fears that tag along with it, can all be embraced to drive my life forward and allow me to return to my home:

My love for performing arts.

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