Late bloomer: Exploring a longtime dream of the theater

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 25, 2018

By Lynn Hall
For the Clemmons Courier

I love theater. It began while I was in high school and my parents starting taking my sister and me to plays at the new Sharpstown Theatre in the Round. We lived in Houston at the time and theater seemed magical from the moment we found our seats in the semi-darkness and watched professionals — often people we knew from television — appear on stage just a few feet away.

Because I had already decided (at the age of eight) that I wanted to be a writer, it seemed logical then, that instead of just writing short stories and novels, I also would write plays. There wasn’t a playwriting class, so I took journalism in high school and that became my major in college. My life as a reporter began immediately after college and somewhere along the way, my big ambitions were lost among wire service and newspaper jobs and then corporation communications. Timely bill-paying took precedence over creative ambitions.

I did write short stories and even a few novels along the way, nothing that was published until I self-published a novel a few years ago, but my only playwriting experience was creating short skits for Sunday school programs. Then, two years ago, I wrote a play. It was exhilarating to see a long-time goal accomplished and actually get positive feedback on it. I’m still tinkering with it, and since some insecurities cling like Saran Wrap, I may never do anything with it, but at least I can mark that off my bucket list.

But back to my love of theater. As much as I loved it, you’d think I would have found some way to be involved at an early age. Certainly not as an actor since I spent most of my early life paralyzed by shyness. I wasn’t even brave enough to look into how to be involved backstage in community theater. It wasn’t until my son and daughter were in high school that I found myself backstage involved with live performances. My daughter was the actor/singer/dancer and my son, the techie, loved backstage work. It was a way for us all to do something together. I loved it and that experience provided an even larger opportunity when Lewisville started doing musicals at Shallowford Square. I quickly learned about costumes, props, blocking and how to be a stage manager. It was an opportunity that finally placed me where I imagined myself all those years ago in high school.

More recently, I’ve had the unexpected, but amazing, experience of working with actors as an assistant director. It’s not something I’d ever imagined doing or considered I might have a talent for, but it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I can remember in a long time. A friend offered me this opportunity and while I was initially reluctant, I’m so glad I agreed and very grateful for her trust and generosity. Me getting to help direct two plays — for the first time — and at my age?

It seemed almost too good to be true that I would discover something I loved so much at this late stage of life, but then I remembered I’m from a family of late bloomers. My grandmother didn’t take up painting until in her 60s and she was quite good. My mother didn’t started painting until she was in her 40s and my father only learned to fly and got his pilot’s license in his 60s and then went on to build three airplanes. I’m just following a family tradition.

This sounds very rambling, but I do have a point. I waited a long time to get involved in something I’d fallen in love with as a teenager. What a waste. Take my advice and don’t let those insecurities get in the way of giving something you’ve always wanted to do a try. I almost missed my chance.