Why I Celebrate New Volunteers
Our volunteers are some of the most interesting and wonderful and talented people I’ve ever met. Singers, seamstresses, painters, performers—I love seeing so many familiar and talented individuals around the place that so many of us call home.
While I celebrate every one of their accomplishments, there’s only one thing I love to celebrate more: the arrival of someone new.
Why? When I was little I knew that Quincy Community Theatre was the most special place in the entire world. Through my child eyes, I didn’t go to see plays—I went to see where Aladdin lived, and Cinderella and the Headless Horseman, too. I knew that there were kids up there that looked just like me, but who were special somehow. I knew that I loved whatever it was they were doing.
Yet for all I knew, there was one very important thing that I didn’t know: that I could be up there, too.
It took 11 years for me—shy, quiet me—to discover that I could be in a show, 2 more years to discover I wasn’t shy and quiet, and another 5 for me to appear onstage in my most special place.
You see, we all have different moments when we come to the realization that “I can do that, too.” Last year marked Tim Bliefnick’s first time on the QCT stage. Tim played small parts in grade school and background roles in high school, but left performing behind in his adult life. With encouragement from a friend of his wife, Tim auditioned for VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE—and found himself in one of the titular roles.
Although it had been years since he’d been onstage, and although his castmates had more experience, Tim said he always felt like he could ask for help. Tim remarked that “everyone’s help really gave [him] a lot of confidence in trying new things and taking different approaches without feeling self-conscious about it.” For him, he believes that “a lot of that stems from Brandon and his attitude as well. He’s very thorough and detailed and having that specificity provides a great framework from which to build the character out.”
He also noted that, while there was a lot of time put into the show, he had a ton of fun doing it and found a lot of flexibility when he had a conflict. Tim’s experience left him with “a greater appreciation for the hard work and dedication that is put in by all the members of the show and a little bit more confidence in [himself] to undertake new things.” While he was frequently out of his comfort zone, he only feels “pride and satisfaction and gratitude” for his time onstage.
Deb Druffel, too, made her first QCT appearance last year. Like Tim, Deb auditioned because of the suggestion of a friend.
Unlike Tim, who had never been directly in the spotlight, Deb had never even been on the stage. Still, she found herself in one of the hottest shows in QCT history—SISTER ACT. Most of all, Deb liked “learning how a production gets put together from zero.” On her first day of rehearsal, Deb only knew one other person; but “eight weeks later we were like a well-oiled machine.” Although it was a huge time commitment, Deb discovered “a new-found respect and admiration for those who are dedicated to the art of the theatre.”
Jerad Gumm had a similar experience last season. He remembers being cast in his fourth grade play at Baldwin, but “whether it was fear or lack of confidence or something else, [he] never showed up and has regretted it ever since.” Jerad was determined not to make the same mistake when he decided it was time for him to explore his passion for acting.
There came a time during the run where he had to start trading out “time with friends and athletics,” but creating a “memorable and entertaining” experience was worth it. For the first time, Jerad could “take what [he’s] always loved to do behind closed doors and express it as a talent for others to enjoy.” The experience was one of “endless learning and self-discovery,” but the relationships he built really stuck out to him. “Life is about developing strong, lasting relationships and QCT is a prime example of where to find them,” Jerad remarked.
Looking back, I had 20 reasons to celebrate last year—and that’s just counting new faces in our Main Stage season. There were so many other adults and students—onstage and off—who made the leap in 2016.
Maybe you’re “too shy” or “not a theatre person.” Both Jerad and myself were, too. Maybe you’re “too busy.” Deb, Tim, and most of our performers work full-time jobs. Many are even parents of younger children. Or maybe you’ve never thought of yourself in that way. I understand what that’s like.
Whatever the reason to not to, there are a million more to get involved. And if you still aren’t sold on auditioning, your involvement doesn’t have to be onstage, either. Just ask Jeanette Cole, or Jeanette Brickman, or Nick Hommowun, or Deanna Twaddle. Ask anyone you know from the theatre. We all “took the leap” at one point.
Speaking for myself, I’m proud that I’ve been in shows at QCT, I’m proud to work here, and I’m proud to see so many new faces in the hallways. More importantly, I’m thankful that I learned that I could be involved at my most special place, too—even if it took me a while.
Don’t waste another second. Audition. Volunteer. You’ll be so glad you did.
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