Casting the show is always the hardest part for me. There is the pressure of wanting to get it just right. Then there is the impossible task of separating my feelings for my kids from the audition process; it is impossible to be impartial. Every one of the kids who put themselves out there has a place in my heart. There are kids who have been a part of the club for three years, who have done their time, who have shown their commitment, who have put in hours upon hours; there are kids who are trying for the first time, who we want to support and give a chance to, who we want to welcome into our family; there are kids who I know extremely well and kids who have just met me; I never make these decisions lightly. I am on edge during audition days, and I try my best to be upbeat and positive for the kids who are already anxious... They are stepping on stage to be judged; any human has trouble with that--as an adolescent, it is insanely brave. I am always in awe of them.
I was just interrupted by a text from a former student saying she hoped I was doing OK, as she knows how stressful this week is for me... The fun part for me starts when I sit with my students, the cast, and start to dig into the script--figuring out who these characters are and how best to communicate their story to the audience... But, right now, there is the distress of knowing I am making a student cry, I am breaking a student's heart... and the joy of knowing I am making a student's night, week, year... It is too much.
I am so very lucky to have a partner in this... Ms. Ryan is as invested in all of this as I am. She helps me to make the tough decisions, and I don't know what I would do without her.
As I head to bed, I hope I sleep; I hope every student who has walked onto my stage knows how very special they are--whether they were on that stage for 1 minute or countless hours; I hope the students who have made the cast and production team appreciate the opportunity and take full advantage of it; I hope they all know how much I love them and what we create together; I hope I can give them everything they deserve and more...
Amber Clair Perkins
Paint Branch Perspectives