TAB member and recent high school and Young Actors Theatre program graduate Hannah Ogden shares a visceral story that helped build her character for A Line in the Land, YAT's Spring Intensive show and Hannah's final performance with YAT.
A disclaimer: This is a story I swore I would never share about, especially not in a blog post. However, I feel that it is a testament to personal growth, so I am sharing it with all of you.
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that athleticism is certainly not my thing. Never has been, never will be. Throughout my youth, I tried basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and swimming. Nothing really stuck for me. When I got into theatre, I thought, “Yes! Finally something that will get me up off the couch and moving around without causing me to be full of dread.” I thought my days of physical activity would be over. Until...
“This is post-apocalyptic times, you guys! You all look too weak! You’d be lifting heavy things, you'd be running everywhere. You guys have to start exercising outside of rehearsals.” Our director for A Line in the Land said the words I had been fearing for most of my adolescence.
I’ve always been comfortable with the fact that I wouldn’t be the one to score a winning point or run the fastest, but this new challenge scared me. The character that I was playing loved physical activity and loved being the best. So, when the time came to do an exercise in character with the cast, I knew I would have to do well. I threw myself into getting the right outfit put together for a Brooks workout, and felt so mentally prepared for the day. We stretched as a cast, and then began running laps around the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Couldn't ask for a better day, especially in the post-apocalyptic desert our characters lived in.
I ran one full lap, no problem. Then another, at this point feeling a bit lightheaded. I know, I know, pretty lame. A quick break pushed me to do another lap, and I was leading the pack but feeling a bit off. Before I knew it, I was being passed by my cast-mates right and left and was wheezing for breath. One more lap and...
I won’t go into graphic detail but I threw up in a beautiful grassy area of the outdoor scape of the IMA. It was a great day for Brooks-- Brooks had probably never gotten to throw up somewhere so green in her life. But for Hannah, for me? Not my finest moment. I was so embarrassed that I had been unable to keep up. My director ran to me, asking me a ton of questions and making sure I was alright. She insisted I take it easy for the rest of rehearsal, take it at my own pace. Once I sipped some water and caught my breath I felt fine physically. But I was so embarrassed. I felt like I had let my team down. After the rehearsal, I sent out a text to my cast’s group chat explaining how disappointed I was.
The response that I got was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Every single one of my cast mates-- even ones that hadn’t been there-- told me how proud they were of my hard work, and how I shouldn’t be embarrassed because everyone is at their own level of growth. They reminded me not to compare myself to my peers because we are all on different journeys in life. In character and out, it’s not effective to look at others and feel bad about myself.
Throughout this session and my entire YAT experience, I and many others have learned the power of leaning on each other. Part of being an ensemble is allowing yourself to be truly vulnerable around others. I had to learn that I shouldn’t be embarrassed to start at a point that may be further behind someone else, because it is all about growth. Now, at the end of the session, I am proud to say that I was a part of an amazing and successful ensemble that has taught me lessons for life.
And: I can run laps at my own pace-- not Brooks's pace-- with no fear of nausea :)
Young Actors Theatre is all about pushing students to expand their horizons and find empowerment from within to better help and uplift others. This is theatre for the ensemble, theatre with room to grow-- this is theatre for everyone. If you're interested in getting involved in YAT, summer camp spaces are still available! View details and register at https://yatkids.org/summer