The Associate Director

As a teenager, I couldn’t get enough of theatre. Maybe it had to do with the insecurity that comes to most youth, but I enjoyed pretending to be someone I wasn’t—someone much more interesting than I inherently was. So when someone in town decided to put on a community theatre production and my parents told me about it, I was in. Well, at least for the auditions. Couldn’t count on more than that.

But imagine my excitement when I saw “Garrett Cartwright” on the website listed next to the supporting male character’s name. That’s me!

The director of the production, Mr. Stewart, was great; he knew what he needed out of us and what he wanted this play to be. He knew what he was doing and ran a tight ship. But for me, it wouldn’t have been such a successful endeavor without the associate director, who insisted that we call her by her first name, Tessa.

While Mr. Stewart set the vision of what he knew the production could be, Tessa helped us through the details. When I stumbled over my words or forgot my line, Tessa was there to whisper to me. When I wasn’t standing in quite the right place, she caught my attention with a little wave and motioned. When my mind went blank, she gave me the words to say.

One time I felt frustrated with myself because I just couldn’t get a line right, and the line wasn’t negotiable. There just was no other good way to say that line. Tessa sat me down and worked with me on it over and over until I could get it right. She brought back my confidence.

When my muscles locked up with nerves, Tessa gave me a sincere pep talk and calmed me down. Perhaps most interestingly, when I had a good day and got a bit too full of myself, she gently brought me back to earth.

I knew that Mr. Stewart’s sharp eyes didn’t miss the details going on across the stage, but I realized that he relied on Tessa to be on stage with us, among us, to coach us and correct us. He didn’t have to be there himself because he trusted her to do what needed to be done to lead us to fulfill his vision. And it worked.

Now, I won’t say every night of the play went off without a hitch because that’s just not possible in theatre. But thanks to the fact that Tessa was there to help us all along the way, we pulled off a great production that we were all proud to have been a part of.

Photo by Monica Silvestre on

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