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all the world's a stage
-william shakespeare

i can't remember when i realized that i wanted to be onstage. some people can pinpoint the exact moment, some glorious realization, but i can't. i just remember knowing.

i knew, softly, warmly, and when i stood beneath the lights for the first time i felt alive. acting was a way to escape myself, and performing was a way to magnify the good parts of me. it made me feel whole, as if i had presented my life in just an hour or two, and when the audience clapped and the lights went down, there was closure.

it was as if i could live individual lifetimes on the stage, each night facing the same problems and knowing exactly what to do to confront them. even if i broke down, i still understood precisely how to break down. where i should lean my head, how loud i should cry, and for how long...i was able to lose myself in my roles, blissfully asleep as i moved across the stage, knowing only my character and forgetting myself for a few blessed hours.

in 1998 i saw a call for auditions for a local performance art/experimental theatre troupe composed entirely of young women. i had seen their show once, three years before, and i had been astounded by a piece i saw performed about sexual molestation. the monologue had shocked me to my core, and the brave young woman who performed it had forever left her mark. it was only after i saw her performance that i had the courage, for the very first time, to tell someone that i had been abused.

i gathered my strength and auditioned for the troupe, feeling nervous and inadequate the entire time but also always repeating that i needed this experience. when the cast list was put up two days later, i found myself amongst the new members.

since that time i have grown immensely, and learned to escape myself and magnify my triumph at the same exact moment. through my art and the support of these wonderful, beautiful women, i find my strength and the courage that it takes to keep fighting this fight. i have written two pieces relating to sexual violation, one angry and impersonal, and one as deep and as sad as my own pain.

i strongly recommend theatre of all types to anyone dealing with emotional trauma. the experience of seeing the world through another person's eyes can help you to find answers to your own questions, and work with experimental theatre has made me more strong that i ever could have hoped.