Do you know that feeling when you stop and examine an aspect of your life and reflect back on the events, moments and feelings that got you to where you are? Have you ever had the opposite experience? Picture yourself – anywhere, doing anything: sitting in a doctor’s office, reading at a coffee shop, waiting to be called in for an interview – and you hit the pause button, look around and think “I’m going to remember this moment and the feeling I had before ___ happened. Before things changed.” Just as if you knew they were about to. Perhaps you haven’t done this before, (and if you’re already scratching your head in confusion, please bear with me) but it has certainly been something I’ve encountered, and sometimes intentionally caused.
I had one of these moments outside the Brelby Theatre in the summer of 2012.
I was walking past the space, which was not yet open, heading toward the patio next door to see their production of Twelfth Night. As I passed the bare windows I caught a quick glimpse of the actors warming up in the empty, unpainted house. It was then that I pushed pause. I breathed in, felt the energy surrounding this place and I knew that one day I would perform there. I needed to.
The following spring I was cast in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and have been involved in nine productions and have become a Company Member since. I can remember Shelby saying in my first audition, “We’ve been wondering when you’d make it out here!” And I felt welcomed and challenged to contribute creatively; refreshed and artistically recharged. One of the beautiful things about Brelby is that it is a safe place for you to try. It is a place of opportunity; to grow in your skills, stretch your talent muscles, learn new things and allow you to discover more about yourself. It is a place where artists can become theatrically well rounded. In my time there I have matured in classical text, fed my love for musical theatre, practiced lighting design, formed solid friendships and had my directing debut. It is a place to teach and learn. Share your ideas and skills and observe someone else’s.
Brelby is exactly what theatre should be – collaborative. And I have been so fortunate to be a part of this collaborative process that has yielded many beautiful stories, connecting performers and audience in mutual understanding and emotion. And that connection, when made, that’s one of my favorite elements of acting.
I know that wherever these feet and heart of mine take me, be it near or far, sooner or later, I will always be grateful for the blessing of this place and the people who hold it up. So cheers to Brelby – and to you! For you reading this are indeed a piece of its story in some way. Cheers to possibility and expression, to all that we have made and to the blank canvas before us. I encourage you, reader, to find that pause button sometime and acknowledge where you’ve come from, appreciate where you are, and embrace where you are about to be.I have many great memories here – ones that involve laughter, tears, jitters and light bulbs – but the one I’d like to mention is quite simple, yet dear to me, and that is of performing with my sister, Ellyn, in a cabaret last fall. Our two voices, the music of Simon and Garfunkel and a uke. It was all of five minutes but I cherish this memory because it was a performance to share with a gal that I rarely see, but admire and love.
– Emily Heald