We know there are some great reasons on why kids should do theatre such as it builds confidence, teaches empathy, it’s creative, and it exposes kids to literature and history – just to name a few.
Recently Spotlight interviewed several Peninsula Youth Theatre (PYT) male performers and asked them about their experiences in theatre. Here’s Part 2 of that session! Introducing William Blackburn, age 14 and David Peters age 15.
When did you become interested in theatre and at what age and why?
William: I became interested in acting when I was 11. My first show was my school’s play, Peter Pan Jr, and that was what kickstarted my interest in acting.
David: My earliest memories of theater are actually from PYT itself – at a young age I was taken to shows like Pirates of Penzance and Peter Pan. Seeing those young people feel comfortable and enjoy themselves on stage really resonated with me. My first dive into acting was PYT’s Theater in the Park program, which I started for the first time at the age of eight.
What have you learned from doing theatre that has helped you either personally or in school?
William: I’ve learned that walking with purpose makes you look well-intentioned while wandering around looking for someone or something :).
David: On a personal level, theater has really boosted my confidence and made me much more comfortable in front of people or on a stage. Theater experience teaches you not to be afraid of embarrassment or shame, even in situations which would seem to be some of the most embarrassing. For example, this past winter break I was present for an opportunity to sing karaoke among peers, but no one wanted to do it. I decided to step up and be the first, but since I didn’t know many pop songs I ended up singing Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” Though it might have seemed embarrassing to others, I had fun with it. Afterwards, other people joined me and we all had a lot of fun. I attribute my willingness to jump into such activities to my theater experience.
What do you enjoy the most about acting/performing?
William: My favorite thing about acting is the people doing the show with me. I have met a ton of people at PYT that have made the shows a lot of fun. A lot of these people are still my close friends as well.
David: The most treasured part of theater to me is the chance to embarrass myself and express myself around a supportive group of people. No group of mine has ever been as tightly knit as nearly every cast has been at the end of a show. It is ironic yet true that one of the only places where I get the chance to be myself is when I am in a show performing as someone else. Theater kids are also some of the most welcoming people I know, because everyone wants everyone else to succeed.
What other activities do you do besides theatre?
William: I also do 3D design and Photography in my free time.
David: Besides theater, I enjoy playing the violin and have participated in school orchestras for five years. I also like to spend time reading science fiction, especially 1980’s sci-fi from authors such as Isaac Asimov or Roger Zelazny. A hobby of mine is creating LEGO stop animation videos, which has become a real passion in the past couple years alongside video editing.
Do you have a favorite role you’d like to perform?
William: I’ve played “Young Simba” and “Timon” in two different productions of The Lion King Jr, so I think I would want to play older “Simba” at one point in the future.
David: A role I would love to perform would the the “Man in Chair” from The Drowsy Chaperone. He has so many clever and funny moments, and he rules the stage during the whole show. Plus, I really enjoyed my time in PYT’s A Christmas Story as the narrator “Jean”, so I imagine that I would also love playing a role similar to that one, with lots of room for comedy and wit.
What is your favorite play or musical?
William: Big Fish for sure.
David: One of my favorite musicals is definitely Heathers: The Musical. Everything from the songs to the staging is amazing in that show, and I cannot tell you how many nights I have spent listening to the soundtrack on repeat while doing homework. There are also just so many quotable lines! “Dear Diary: My teen angst now has a bodycount.” However, I would feel as if I was doing myself a disservice if I did not also mention Hamilton, the rap phenomenon that took the theater world by storm in 2015. I absolutely fell in love with its soundtrack for months upon months.
What would you say to other boys who might want to do theatre but are hesitant about trying it out?
William: Doing theatre might sound like a “girly” thing to do but it really isn’t. There are a lot of boys that do it, and it’s a lot of fun for those who do.
David: My number one piece of advice that I would give to all people who want to try theater, but this goes doubly for boys, is that you can be sure that every single actor, actress, and director that you will work with wants to support you. There can be a certain stigma that dancing and singing are ‘girly’ or that it’s not ‘cool’ to be a theater kid, but those preconceptions are utterly ridiculous. I don’t know of a single actor or actress who has shamed other people for trying things out or expressing themselves through drama. The sort of people who would mock or embarrass fellow actors are not the sort of people willing to do silly and embarrassing things themselves, which is an essential part of theater. So if you think you might have an interest in theater, go for it! Be silly! Make big choices! Express yourself! Theater is one of the best outlets for being exactly who you want to be without fear of shame or embarrassment, and the peers that you work with will inevitably become some of the closest friends you can make. I hope to see you on the stage!
Anything else you’d like to share about why you like to perform?
William: At one point in The Lion King Experience Jr, I was privileged with a partner dance number. I got to wear a coconut bra and a hula skirt! It was really fun to perform and the audience laughed a lot too.
David: For me, there are two defining moments of a show. The first is opening night; it’s the culmination of three months of hard work with peers you’ve grown close to, and now is the time when you all get to shine. I love opening nights because I always realize how excited we all are to finally put our work to the test, and then there’s the feeling of exhilaration after a successful opening night when all of the pieces finally come together (or when we laugh backstage about everything that went wrong!). The second defining moment is at the cast party, when everyone knows the show’s soundtrack by heart and indulges in a bit of bitter sweet reminiscing. Nothing quite matches the solidarity of a cast at the close of a musical. In fact, nothing even comes close. Feelings like those are what drive me to continue acting and being silly and embarrassing myself. And loving the journey all the while. I hope other kids find my responses helpful. I’m looking forward to doing more PYT shows in the future!
Spotlight thanks William and David for sharing their experiences and if you missed Why Kids Do Theatre Part 1: A Boy’s Perspective, be sure to check it out now!
For more information about PYT camps, classes, internships, employment, upcoming auditions and shows go, please visit PYT’s website at www.pytnet.org
Blog by Barbie Koch