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Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

By Lillian Guenseth

Seven years ago, I was in my first theatre production: Guys & Dolls. It was my senior year of high school and after some coaxing from a couple choir friends, I auditioned. Low and behold, I got the fun role of Miss Adelaide *sneezes*.  Little did I know, this experience would impact where I would spend all my available time for the next 7 years (and counting). Since then, I’ve been a part of 20 educational and community theatre productions, and boy oh boy, am I exhausted/happy/eager for more.

Each production I’ve been a part of, God has always been faithful to make the experience less about me and more about the lesson I can learn from the production. And If I did try to make it about me… Well… There was always a humbling experience to follow, but that’s another story.

A couple lessons that have greatly influenced the way I live my life have actually been within the past couple of years.  Last year, I was in Acting Out’s production of Sweeney Todd.  During the production, my mind would consistently be blown (no, not by the goriness) by how much of myself I saw in the character Sweeney Todd (and maybe a little bit of Beggar Women – the kooky side at least). Of course I don’t have a barber shop where I murder people and send their bodies downstairs to be baked into pies, but I have been blinded by my own distaste of circumstances to where it consumed me for the worst and clouded my vision. Sweeney Todd allowed me to see from an outside perspective how I was acting (on a different scale) and continues to motivate me to correct this in my own life.

Likewise two years ago, I was in Acting Out’s production of CATS and I learned more clearly what joy feels like, the depth of love, and that family doesn’t have to be biological (they can be your cat friends!) when life offers the opposite of pleasantries.

That brings us to this year’s production of Beauty and the Beast, which highlights a topic that we are all pretty familiar with: inner beauty.  In the end, we see that Gaston is the true monster despite his appealing exterior (side note: which is VERY appealing and yet is nothing compared to his kind heart and selflessness, being as it is my boyfriend, Tanner Hurt, who will be playing the role of Gaston – It’s his first show!!), and that the Beast has changed for the better because his heart learned to truly love and exemplify selflessness.  Beast gave Belle her freedom despite him losing the possibility of gaining back his own.

In current times, we are so focused on the external aspects of ourselves, we get swept up and don’t realize that the external things we seek to attain, don’t add value to our life. So rather than making ourselves look good or seeking our own reward, be a friend, say something nice on Facebook, ask how you can help, show kindness to those you fancy and to those you don’t fancy (mind blowing, right?).

I’m sure by the end of this production, I’ll have asked myself numerous of times who I am comparatively to the characters. My hope is that I would be challenged to never be a Gaston, who focuses on the external, but be a changed for the better Beast, who truly exemplifies inner beauty (or being Belle works too!).

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Malcolm S. Forbes and I hope this influences you as much as it continually impacts me (even though I fail time and time again).

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”

Don’t be motivated by the appearance or reward, be motivated by the change of heart through love.