I have always been a quiet person. I have been told that even when I was born I didn’t make a sound; I just looked around the room as if I was studying my new surroundings. I was given the name Samantha, which actually means listener, and listening is what I am good at.
In eighth grade I wanted to join the drama club. This would seem out of character if you know me, but I didn’t want a part I just wanted to work backstage. In order to be any part of the club though, I still had to try out. On the day of the auditions I was the last person to read. I went into the room telling Mrs. Parker, the teacher in charge who had taught me social studies for the past three years, that I did not want a part and just wanted to work backstage. She looked at me and frowned, but then smiled; telling me that she would still like me to read a part. So I did, not expecting anything to come of it.
The next day the results of the auditions were posted and to my horror my name was listed next to Margaret LaRue, a character in the play. I went to see my teacher, who informed me that this was not a mistake but that if I wanted to be in the drama club I had to take this part. She told me that she knew I could do it and when I began refusing again she showed me that the part only had three lines. I looked at the three short lines and saw that they didn’t come until the end of the play. So I decided maybe I could do this.
I went to the first practice the next week. I knew my lines weren’t until the end so I expected to sit and watch as the rest of my peers read their parts, until it was my turn. To my surprise I was called to the stage at the beginning. I hurriedly looked through the script for my characters’ name and lines in the first act, but didn’t see any. So why was I needed on stage?
The play was a murder mystery, based off of the game Clue, and my character was the person who was thought to be murdered. In the play, my body was found and the other characters, thinking me dead, hid me on the stage. The stage was decorated as a living room, and I was placed next to the couch with a lampshade over my head, comically hidden from the other oblivious characters. After looking at the script a second time, I realized that I was on stage the whole time! I didn’t want a part in the first place and now I had to sit on stage for the duration of the play? When we had a break I went to talk to Mrs. Parker again, planning on quitting.
I think she knew right away what I was going to say because she took me into another classroom and had me sit down at one of the desks. She sat down next to me and took my hand. She then said, “Samantha, I know you can do this play. In the time that I have taught you, you have been so quiet, which is okay. But I have noticed that when you do decide to say something, people lean in to listen. They want to hear what you have to say… it is a privilege to hear what you have to say”.
I was so surprised, and still am, by what she said to me. I just stared at her. I had never thought of myself as having anything of importance to say, and hearing someone tell you that they believe in your voice and your thoughts is shocking. She told me to think about it some more and left me to decide what to do.
I decided to stay in the play. It was scary and stressful and there were other times when I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. It was, and will probably always be, the only play that I have ever been in, but I am glad that I stuck with it. I accomplished something that I never thought I would be able to do, and while it didn’t help me get over the fear of public speaking completely I think that it helped me to better cope with the idea of it. Having someone believe in you is a powerful thing, and Mrs. Parker helped me to believe in my own voice. I will always be a quiet person, and a listener, but I know that when I have something to say I should say it. She has helped me to be able to express myself and believe in myself, which has helped shape who I am today.
Samantha Lada | College for Creative Studies