Senior Showcase Speech by Anna Mercer

Home SLT Education Department Youth Performance Troupes Senior Showcase Speech by Anna Mercer

woman singing

Photo by Tonya Forbes

When Lorianne first asked me to speak at the senior show, my first thought was about the lack of parameters. No direction or inspiration, just an open time slot for me to fill as I saw fit. I decided to read my essays from Troupe years past, and my essay from the beginning of this year stood out for a few reasons.

In that essay, I discussed how graduation season always has an impact on the dynamic of the whole Troupe. Goodbyes are said and future plans are disclosed, but in the end only a small part of the Troupe moves on and the rest are left behind. Troupers move away and go on to do great things, but they never truly cease to be a part of the Troupe community.

I began to think to myself, “When I leave Troupe, how will I be remembered?” I want the memory that people have of me to reflect the kind of person I truly am. It has recently become apparent to me that the only influence you have on the way people remember you is how you treat them. It sounds simple enough. Treat others how you want to be treated and you’ll be set for life. But it’s more complicated than that. Every action, statement, and sideways glance is open to interpretation, and that’s what makes it so tricky. A lifetime of kindness can be undone by a simple misinterpreted action.

A quote from my beloved Henry David Thoreau sums it up nicely, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” In a world that thrives on electronic communication, we leave ourselves more vulnerable than ever before to the interpretation of our friends and colleagues. It is so, so important to learn how to correctly interpret what others say and do, and I believe the training I’ve received in YES Troupe perfectly accomplishes that.

woman in red

Photo by Tonya Forbes

Every time that I say I’m involved in the Troupe program at SLT, I get to see a weakly disguised face of surprise. Don’t worry – it doesn’t offend me. I get it – in day to day life, I don’t come across as a musical performer. Probably because I’m not. Unlike some of the people joining me on stage today, I don’t thrive on difficult choreography. I like to sing, just not in front of a crowd.

But despite this, I am inexplicably drawn to the performing arts. I’ve never been able to wholly decipher why that is – but in the last few months, I’ve begun to see a little bit of logic in my interest. Maybe it’s not that I’m drawn to the performing arts themselves. Maybe, I’m drawn to the people in the performing arts.

Anyone who is involved in the community knows what I mean. These people are a kind of their own, largely due to the passion and intention with which they live their lives. I adore the passion that I see in every face when they rehearse the same song a thousand times. It takes a special kind of person to remain dedicated in the midst of such monotony! Every movement and facial expression is meaningful – no action is without intention.

I have only spent three years with these people, but I’ve learned a lifetime of lessons. Passion, intention, and interpretation are uniquely bound together by the world of theatre.

I’m sure that 99% of YES Troupe knows how much I love quotes, so I find it fitting to leave you with one final quote. It comes from Ernest Hemingway, and it is one of my favorites: “The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for, and I hate very much to leave it.” The people who dedicate themselves to the performing arts have a difficult task cut out for them. They must interpret the words of others with passion and intention. It is not an easy thing to do – but the world is so much more beautiful when you fight through the challenges. The world needs you to tell stories according to your own interpretation. Life would be a much duller place without your passion. I ask you to take Hemingway’s words to hear. My sweet theatre friends, keep on fighting for the world. I promise you, it is always worth it.

Youth Performance Troupes

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