I know some people think I’m crazy to take on directing a show right now when I already have such a full schedule of teaching, National HYPE Director-ing, and college ministry. I sometimes think I’m a bit crazy, too, especially when I’m driving home on a Saturday afternoon, spent with exhaustion.
But if you only knew how much my heart needs it right now …
You see for seven years, I worked for CYT – in just about every capacity. I saw so many changes come and go. I answered the phone more times than I can count, seated thousands of people in seats to see shows, registered hundreds of kids for classes and camps, made a million memories with people I loved the best, and always said that CYT was my happy place, despite any hardships that came our way.
When I went to my first CYT Expo in 2010, I looked around at all those crazy people from around the country who were so very much like myself, and I knew then and there – that CYT had a forever seal on my heart.
But of course, one must also do things like graduate from college and get an “adult” job that pays all the bills – and so I became a teacher in 2014, and had to say good-bye to CYT for a time while I underwent a difficult initiation into the world of teaching. It’s a beautiful world, and I dearly love the students I get to call my own and spend every day learning with.
And yet. There’s no place like home.
And as I drove out to Coeur d’Alene for rehearsal on Friday, after a particularly rough day (no, week) at school, joy flooded my heart, for I really did feel like I was coming home after all these years. To a place that, like the song “Solla Sollew” from Seussical says, “If we can find it, then all will be well … Troubles there are few … and I’ll be home with you.”
When we had to say good-bye to our CYT-Spokane Studio in 2014 that had been our home for seven years, I wrote a little “Building Farewell” speech, the end of which went like this:
“For so many of us, CYT is our ‘Solla Sollew’ – our ‘world of pure imagination’ – our ‘place where dreams come true’ – our ‘Neverland.’ It’s a place that is safe, a place of love, and a place to call home. And whether that’s in the hallways of the Bing, the hallways of the Studio, the hallways of high schools, churches or other such facilities, we know that we will always find it.
“Because it doesn’t lie within these four walls – it lies within a friend’s heartfelt hug – a child’s magical smile when they are taking their very first bow – a senior’s tears when they’re taking their last bow – a parent’s late-night dedication to getting that last set painted – the cheerful voices of the office staff as they answer the phones – the laughter that is always to be found – the insistence of ‘one more time from the top!’ – and the hands that hold tight as we all join together in prayer. We will always have that as long as CYT exists. And no matter where we go, we will take that spirit with us. Here’s to new adventures waiting just around the next bend!”
I may be directing for a different CYT now, but it doesn’t matter, because every CYT has those same threads of love and belonging in them. As I discovered at Expo, CYT people are kindred spirits and so whichever CYT we go to, we’ll have the same sense of coming home.
When I first started with Snow White, I was worried that it might take me a while to build up the same kind of rapport and relationships that I had with CYT-Spokane kids, since I didn’t know the North Idaho kids. However, it’s only been three weeks, and it’s safe to say I’ve quite fallen in love with them already – because they’re CYT kids after all! And spending four hours with them on a Friday night and four hours with them on a Saturday morning fill my heart with more joy than I know what to do with.
They take the pictures I have in my head of the show and bring it to life more vividly and colorfully than I could have hoped for. They’re focused, yet also silly; they’re extremely talented, yet also incredibly grateful; they’re so kind to one another, and always willing to work harder. What a gift it is to be able to work alongside of them and make beautiful magic happen together.
And in four more weeks, our show will be up on the Kroc stage, ready for the audience to join in the magic.
It might be crazy, it might be exhausting, it might be terrifying, but in the end, that’s what theater always is – a little insane, but always worth it.
And I’m so grateful that I get to come home to CYT once again.