A Play of Fear
By Annie Li
I used to be a shy person. I was only seven when I was cast in my elementary school’s play. I was small and shy. I wanted to be an actress! Except before the play, I had little experience in the acting area. So when I was cast, I was shocked. I had auditioned for the popular Shakesphere play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and got in as Puck. I thought that my friend, Noelle, would get the role. I tried to give her the role, but she refused. “You deserve it.” Every day after school, some of my friends, a couple of fifth-graders, and I met in the Black Box. The Black Box was a room with black curtains, black painted wooden floors, and a couple of props. We met there for rehearsals. I had stage fright, and it was beginning to become a problem. A few days after we started, my drama teacher pulled me aside. She tried to talk to me about my fear, but it didn’t help much. “Annie, we need you to be ready for the final showing. You have some of the key lines and we can’t afford to lose a member.” “I know, but I’m just afraid of messing up! I don’t know if I can do it; you should just sub someone in, like Noelle.” Noelle had had a close chance of making it in. But my teachers couldn’t find a fitting role and decided to cast her as one of Titania’s fairies, Cobweb. “I have confidence in you. You’ll be able to do it. I want you to try your best. Practice in front of your family, your friends, anyone. Anything to help you.” “Alright. I’ll try.” The rehearsal went on. Every day, I would walk into the Black Box, fresh with the smell of sawdust, and take off my shoes. The rubber-plastic-like floor was cool under my feet, and it felt amazing to lay down on it during the summer. And at every rehearsal, we would practice our lines. I would stumble over them and mix them up whenever I spoke the lines in front of everyone. Rehearsals went on for about two more months, and sooner or later, it was almost time. I still was not over my stage fright, and the show was in three days. I had my lines memorized, but I still stuttered at times. At rehearsal, my music teacher announced that semester awards would be announced when the play was over. The awards were pretty silly things and were given to those that had shown exemplary work during the past semester. While they didn’t mean much, it was still an honor to get one. I was not ready in time. But there was no time to prepare. I ran down to the Atrium to the bathroom by the dance studio after I got out of my last class. I nearly tumbled down the smooth marble stairs, but I got out unscathed. I grabbed my costume, slipped the black overalls over my shoulders, and stepped into my brown flats. I met with the other cast members in the dance studio as we prepared. The play started at 4 and ended at 6. It was 30 minutes before showtime, and I was still nervous. I was panicking. “What if I don’t do good? What if I forget to speak? What if I trip?” Fellow cast members reassured me, and I felt a tinge better. When Noelle saw me, she walked over. “Hey, Annie. I think you’ll do great. Just smile.” “Thanks, Noelle, you too.” I grinned back. We parted ways to work on the final touches. Once I finished, I ran off into the wings. I had a couple of lines here and there, and I was doing fine. My biggest worry was Puck’s final monologue. It was a bit lengthy and had challenging wording. I could either speak out the last words of A Midsummer Night’s Dream perfectly or completely butcher them. As I walked out of the wing, I made sure my microphone was securely attached to my face. Then I made my way to the center stage and began speaking. I didn’t mess up once. The curtains dropped, and I heard the roar of applause behind. Everyone ran out of the wings, smiles plastered on their faces. Everyone interlocked hands as the curtain rose. Then, the directors, my music and drama teachers, walked out as we marched backward. My music teacher held the stack of awards and my drama teacher held the list of names. The names rolled on and on, as girls from the audience (it was an all-girls school) came up to the stage and received their plaques. “And our last award goes to...Annie Li for being the boldest in the semester!” My ears perked up. Me? Boldest? This couldn’t be, it had to be a mistake! Noelle playfully pushed me forwards. I gingerly walked toward the microphone. “Annie has shown that fear doesn’t have to hold you back from doing what you love. She has been doing theatre for nearly three years, and not once did she show any fear. As we were preparing for this show, Annie had come down with stage fright and worried about her stage appearance. But tonight she shows us that nothing prevented her from pursuing her passion. Thank you, Annie.” My music teacher walked over and placed the brown and gold award in my hands. It felt cool and heavy. I ran my finger over my name engraved on the plate. I walked to the microphone and decided that I would thank all who supported me. “Thank you to everyone that helped me. My teachers, my parents, even my brother! But most of all, Noelle Jones. I’d like to thank Noelle for letting me become Puck, even if it was the role she wanted most of all. I already have many awards from other years, so I’d like to give up my award and let Noelle have it.” My friend walks onto the stage. I placed the plaque in her hands and smiled. The audience clapped loudly. The roar died down, and my music teacher made a final announcement. “And that will conclude the award ceremony! Please see yourselves out the door. Thank you for coming!”, my drama teacher announces. Noelle and I met the others backstage, and we all walked out, the sound of joy filling the halls.