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From the Apprentices – Reflections

July 23, 2012

As my year comes to a close, we’ve been asked to take some time and reflect on what we have learned this year…

While I believe a lot of what I take away will be difficult to quantify, here is the list of lessons I will take with me as I continue my journey as a middle school theater teacher.

  1. Listen – even when your brain is full.
  2. Pay attention – not only to the words people say but also to what their actions communicate.
  3. Some days will always be harder than others. That goes for some weeks, some projects, and some personalities.
  4. It’s okay if you don’t get it the first time; chances are there’s going to be a second, third, or tenth opportunity to get it in the end.
  5. Trust your team; they will be your family, your partners, and your sounding board. Know them, honor them, and care for them. It’s up to all of you to keep each other sane and creating.
  6. Even when progress can’t be measured, have faith that you are getting somewhere.
  7. Have fun! Seriously.
  8. Take joy in the struggle.
  9. Take care of yourself above all else. This means sleep at night, always pack a few snacks, guard your days off and do things that make you happy.
  10. The two most powerful words you have are YES and NO. Use them carefully.

This year has been full of highs and lows. The challenges and rewards have been equally epic. In the end, what I carry away with me is that by working with a dedicated ensemble, by never giving up, by always pushing through each and every comfort zone, I have emerged feeling invincible. There are no limits to what we can accomplish; we simply must be willing to dive in and ask the question, “Ok, what’s next?”

— Meggan

———–

Writing a bit of our experience here at Touchstone was one of our final assignments as apprentices. It didn’t matter if one person was elected to represent the whole group, or if it was a collective piece. Before this year, I would have immediately asked, “Who wants to do it?” But now, after a year of laughter, tears, spirits, and beers, I knew there was no other way to truly recount the year without a few words from each of us.

Our apprenticeship was without a doubt of the most difficult and rewarding things I have ever done. As a recent college graduate and having been born and raised in sunny California, I had no idea what was in store. The homesickness, “real” weather, and ultimate introduction to the real world would have gotten the better of me had it not been for the amazing people with whom I spent my days. The entire company will forever be my host family into the Ensemble theatre world. Touchstone gave me a place to grow, instilled tough love whenever necessary, and most importantly, always made room for play.

Being the first apprentice to leave, I feel a sense of withdrawals from my three counterparts. I find it amazing that within one year, we four completely different people know some of the most intimate parts of one another. Each one of us struggled and failed, yet found the strength in one another to stand up again (still my favorite memory was during Fresh Voices when we walked downstage in tandem to take our last bow).

As I journey back to California for a summer residency with Touchstone’s sister theatre, Cornerstone, I look forward to applying all that Touchstone has instilled in me. One nugget of wisdom that I will continue to carry with me is the gift of collaboration in the absence of compromise. With an open mind and open heart, we can achieve anything.

— Nicole

———–

The past year at Touchstone has been a grand and eye opening experience. I got my first glimpses of the professional ensemble theatre world. From the polishing process of Into The Dark, through the full realization of a long awaited project in A Resting Place, nothing was ever quite the same.  I worked with giant shadow women, built a giant present, wielded an oversized fork, delved into the character of the “Big Purple Man”, and even built a life sized elephant puppet, who I affectionately named Betty.

Touchstone is a truly unique environment, and I wouldn’t trade this last year for anything.

All in all, Touchstone provided me with the opportunity to do some pretty big things.

— Rob

———–

From my journal, May 19th, 2012.

Well, that’s it. My last show for Touchstone Theatre. Young Playwrights’ Festival and 99% of the Apprenticeship is in the books.

Mary – blessed, beautiful, loving Mary – pulled me aside to say she’d been watching me during the run, and the change in my presence onstage – how comfortable and present I now am in my body, my bold choices, my impeccable comedic sense and timing – “You’ve grown so much, Katy. And it’s really a joy to watch you.”

I’m so glad you were watching, Mary.

When the show was over, all the playwrights came up and I handed them flowers. I taught 3 of the 7. There was Evan with his Yeti play from Freemansburg, little Nadie and her rabbits and alligators from Donegan, and Rosie. Sweet Rosie Vargas from the class I taught with Bill last summer. I hadn’t seen her since. She’d grown up a lot. From a child to a young woman in the blink of a year.

She gave me a big hug after the show. I told her to keep writing.

We went out for a beer, the four of us apprentices in our nice clothes, after the gala and auction. Nicole is headed back to California. I’m off to Pittsburgh. Meggan got a job as a theatre teacher at the new performing arts middle school. Rob is talking about working on a cruise ship.

We danced in our chairs, drinks in hand, and said “Hey. Hey, I’ll really miss you. For real.”

It’s been a tough year. Much tougher than I ever imagined, and for those reasons I’m relieved to close the chapter called “Touchstone.”

But I grew. I grew so much. And I can be nothing but grateful for that.

— Katy

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2012 8:48 pm

    To all four of you…you will all be missed. It was a pleasure for me to watch all of you grow in so many different ways. We all go through life on our own paths. We meet other who venture in and out of our path. What we learn from each other and how we carry those lesson with us is what makes us grow. I’m honored to have ventured on and around your paths for this past year. I’m sure those paths will cross again. Take what you’ve learned and share it on your continuing journey. Peace to all of you. Best wishes, Kim

  2. August 17, 2012 9:48 am

    We miss you all already. You were such a strong support for us all. Thank you, and I do hope that you’ve walked away with much that will serve you well for the rest of your lives. With much love to the four of you.

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