Fail Forward

Tell about an experience that has shaped you as a person.

“That song is so overdone.”

“She is so fierce.”

“I totally booked that audition.”

Thespians have earned a reputation for being catty. Sure, we all strut like divas and belt the “Wicked” soundtrack, although privately wishing we could sing five notes higher. But as Drama Queens, we stay very tuned in to our emotions.

This past summer, I attended a three-week intensive titled “The Performing Arts Project.” Upon my arrival, I was greeted by high-pitched squealing, lots of hugging and catcalls of: “You BETTA werk.” (That’s a compliment.) Even with the exaggerated gasps and affectionate sighs floating through the air, distinct cliques formed almost immediately. It was as if the strength of our individual hair tosses was enough to establish our place on the food chain. The competition had begun.

Tights sparkled with sweat, honey slid down throats and tempos were given as day one progressed. That night, the ninety-five “Gleeks” were armed with pieces of chalk and led to a brick wall. Four words lined the top of the wall. Your Fears Erased Here. And so they would be.

We filled brick after brick with the chicken scratch of fears upon fears. I hesitantly added my own. As each student took a step back from the collective masterpiece, the...

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