By Gemma Sidney
As a girl, I had always wanted to be a star. A rather awkward child, I came alive on the stage, a place where I could escape my childhood anxieties and my lisp. By the age of eleven, I had brought to life such old favourites as the second little pig, one of Little Bo Peep’s sheep, and a syringe in a play about drug awareness.
My future looked bright, but Fate had other plans. On my twelfth birthday, my beloved drama teacher Miss Presston (try saying that three times fast with a lisp) was hit by a bus that left her in a coma.
After Miss Presston’s accident our next play, “Snow White”, in which I was to be the mirror (my biggest part yet!) was cancelled and as a result I plunged into a deep depression. My dreams were shattered and I was certain that I was doomed, as this was the second momentous setback of my childhood. At the age of seven I had been forced to quit archery after an unfortunate incident with the neighbour’s dog.
Mother had dragged me along to the hospital to visit Miss Presston, certain it would do me good, but the entire exercise was altogether too morbid. She had lost the colour in her cheeks, appearing shrunken and a greyish-yellow colour next to her former jolly self. I had also been horrified to discover her dry, calloused hands, after Mother thrust one of them in mine in a last-ditch effort to help me connect with Miss Presston’s sprit, which was in there, somewhere, Mother assured me. However, her spirit did not prevail; poor Miss Presston was silent and unmoving for a full fourteen months until her death.
Miss Presston had quickly been replaced by substitute teacher Ms Dodds, a bitter old spinster who was no fun at all. The enrolments in drama class soon dwindled away to only the most precocious children. Being in such a small town with only one supermarket, it took a long time for the school to find a permanent replacement for Miss Presston, by which time I was halfway through high school and had a new pastime – helping Doctor Swindle, the local psychologist, with his filing. This activity did not earn me any money but ensured Mother a five-dollar discount on her weekly appointments.
I had never set foot on another stage until Fate stepped in on the day of my thirty-fourth birthday, when I happened upon an advertisement in the newspaper for the Danny Spotlight Amateur Theatre Company. The advertisement promised me “Confidence!” and said in bold, red letters “…demand Your Ovation with our Fun and Professional acting classes!!”. The black-and-white finality of my childhood mind was behind me, somewhere in amongst the brown filing cabinets in Doctor Swindle’s office. I wasn’t doomed, just a little unlucky.
All these thoughts and more plague my mind as I tremble behind the curtain, waiting for my cue.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall–” Here I go…