Coming Out Of My Shell: My Theater Experience


Angelo Raya Medrano

Me as Alyssa, the vampire cheerleader in the first act of the Spring comedy play, Vampires, Zombies, and Werewolves, Oh My!

A popular misconception is that theater kids are always annoying, loud, nerdy, and crazy. But in my experience, these traits are what make being in theater such an entertaining and welcoming experience. 

Personally, being a part of theater has probably been the most rewarding and growing experience of my entire high school career and I don’t consider myself to be those things. It has allowed me to flourish into a much more confident and self assured individual. Theater gave me exactly what I wanted, which was to become more outgoing and social and have the ability to talk to others and build connections easier. Performing has made public speaking and speaking in general more natural and relaxed for me. It has also piqued my interest in future prospects involving theater or acting and the movie industry. 

Before I considered doing theater, I was somewhat introverted, but that was definitely something I wanted to change. I desired to be able to talk to people more naturally and freely but I would often be too nervous to do it or I never made it a priority. I would want to participate more in class but I would also feel embarrassed if no one else did. I was scared to talk to a large group of people in general, I was always worried about what was thought about me. Theater greatly improved this. By performing, you have to put on a show on stage in front of a large audience and you have to ignore them the whole time. Now I have done this about nine times so I’ve become pretty comfortable with being the center of attention.

Around the time auditions for the play, La Casa de Bernarda Alba, were being announced, I said to my friends that I was curious about being a part of a play, but would pass on this one since it was in Spanish. Although I am fluent in Spanish, I expected it to be more difficult to learn a script and act in Spanish because it was all new to me, so I decided I should wait until the Spring to join the next play. I remember walking into Mr. Mendez’s English class sometime during late October and him asking me if I was interested in helping Mrs. Pulido out with her play since they needed a lead role to play Bernarda Alba. I was very tempted but also had many doubts about myself; in the spur of the moment, I agreed.

 I went to auditions after school and the remaining cast members, made up of seven girls, welcomed me with open arms, cheerful that I had come to fill the missing role. Everyone seemed relieved that the show would go on, but I still had a hesitation,. I felt that it was a big daunting responsibility. To learn all my lines in just over a month and learn to perform in a play for the first time made me extremely nervous. I attended rehearsals everyday and managed to learn all my lines just a few days before the show.

 It was so much fun getting to meet up with the cast and the crew on a daily basis, theater is one of the best ways to meet new people at school. Our friendship grew from seeing each other in rehearsals everyday. I rekindled my friendship with Kenny Tapia whom I have greatly admired for being such a genuine and funny person since middle school and who has also been the stage manager for both the plays I’ve been in. Simon, Aileen, JLo, Sonya, Arely, Abdi, Teresa, Gali, and Mrs. Pulido all  made my first theater experience so fun and special and gave me the motivation to return for the next one. 

 I remember the first show for La Casa de Bernarda Alba I was so overwhelmed with excitement and anxiety, mostly anxiety and I was on the verge of a sort of breakdown after hearing about how many people were in the audience and I began to think about what they would think of me and my cast members like Kenny and Simon were reassuring me and calming me down. I was shaking the whole time up until I heard my cue to go on stage. After that I just had to focus, and take it all in and get comfortable in the bright lights and not mind all the people with their eyes on me. 

I had just memorized my lines, but I still tripped up on the cues because of my long conversation with Aileen Cardenas’s character “La Poncia”. I remember in one of our three conversations, we mixed up our lines and we really struggled to improvise. We sat in a long awkward silence and I just wanted to get off stage at that point. Then we scrambled to get through the scene and after a bit of stressing over how badly we messed up, picked ourselves up, moved on, rehearsed better the next time, and focused on improving for our next performance.

 It was very stressful but after I experienced that possible worst case scenario, I realized that making a mistake wasn’t all that bad and it wasn’t the end of the world and there is nothing else to worry about when performing because the rest of the cast would have my back and help me fix any mistakes I made, all I had to focus on was delivering my part and maybe attempting to improvise if anyone else slipped up. The experience with messing up helped me to loosen up and not take myself too seriously and have fun on the stage playing a different character. 

For my second (and final) high school play, Vampires, Zombies, and Werewolves Oh My! I landed the role of Alyssa, the vampire cheerleader in the first scene, and Ahura, the director of a mermaid cell phone commercial in the last scene. 

This play was a whole lot easier, although I expected there to be some difficulty playing two roles in one play. It was difficult for some other actors who played multiple characters in back-to-back scenes because they needed to do quick changes and such, but it was not an issue for me because my scenes were far apart from each other. I also had fewer  lines to learn.  It was more fun playing more cheerful and silly characters as it was a comedy, compared to my role in La Casa de Bernarda Alba. It was also a much bigger cast of over 30 people, including crew. Although I didn’t get to connect with everyone in this play because there were just too many people, it was still nice having people to become friends with. 

Being a part of the plays was the best way to spend my afterschool time. Before, in my down time, I would go home and watch TV or be on my phone and I felt like I did nothing and just wasted my days away. But in theater, I got to socialize with everyone and spend my time having fun and making friends which is much more productive and a great way to practice coming out of my shell and learning to talk to others more naturally. 

I greatly recommend joining theater or drama. Although I wasn’t in drama class, being part of the plays and drama club is a lot of fun and you get to develop close connections with a lot of friendly people who share the same interest. Mrs. Pulido is a kind instructor and mentor, and she makes any of her programs a safe and inclusive space. Although there may be a stereotype that drama is for weird nerds, I can safely declare this myth: busted!