HOW YOUTH DRAMA CHANGED MY LIFE: Volume 5

Here we ask members of our community to reflect on their experience with youth drama and discuss how it has impacted their life and career. In Volume 5, we hear from actor Daniel Monks (photo credits to Marc Brenner), commercial lawyer Pearl Wong, and multidisciplinary artist Amy Sole.

HOW YOUTH DRAMA CHANGED MY LIFE
By Daniel Monks (Actor)

“Drama is pretty darn magical. Having a space & platform to tell stories, explore lives and express ourselves wholly is an undeniably valuable, nourishing thing. As a disabled person, for many years that space & platform wasn’t accessible or available to me, but the industry is finally changing. To any disabled young person who might have an interest in drama, I cannot recommend it more. It’s changed my life. I never thought I could ever be an actor, and now is it not only the thing that makes me the happiest, but has become my career, which has taken me all around the world, including to the West End stage. If you feel like you’re different or like you don’t fit in, drama can be the place where you are given an opportunity to not only belong, but stand out. It has been that for me.”

Daniel Monks onstage captured by Marc Brenner

HOW YOUTH DRAMA CHANGED MY LIFE
By Pearl Wong (Commercial Lawyer)

“I first got involved in drama at 10 when my friend invited me along to her weekly speech and drama lesson. I was a pretty shy kid and we had the most fun just dressing up and playing pretend. At 13, I entered a local arts college and majored in drama until graduation. My time there was filled with daily drama lessons, after-hour rehearsals and huge productions that ran for weeks, performed in front of hundreds of people.

When you’re constantly in costume, reading lines and interacting with other characters, sets and props, there’s so much going on, you forget to be nervous about the people watching. All of these experiences gave me the confidence to speak up, present my ideas and interact with strangers without fear of judgement.

I’m now a commercial lawyer dealing with a tonne of moving parts every day. In this industry you have to constantly be on the ball, and be unafraid to speak your mind or stand up for yourself.

After all this time, I’m still a shy kid inside, but when I’m feeling a little nervous, I just remember all the times I spoke in front of hundreds of strangers, and play pretend all over again.”

HOW YOUTH DRAMA CHANGED MY LIFE
By Amy Sole (Writer/Actor/Director/Producer and Co-Founder of Puddle or Pond, Equity Diversity Co-Chair, and a Proud Wiradjuri/Worimi Person)

“I grew up in the small town of Forster (Worimi country). The twin cities it’s called. When I was growing up there, we had not much going on, I spent most of my time with family and staying at my nans place. I was an only child with heaps of cousins and aunties.

My nans place was full of things, she loved garage saling and bargaining. She would buy the most incredible things for the smallest amounts. She had cupboards full of wedding dresses, random wigs and musical instruments, rolls and rolls of fabrics all of which she got for less than $2. Stacks of garden magazines, antique furniture and things you couldn’t even imagine. My mum called it nans junk, but for me it was nans magical stuff and I believe this is where I was introduced to theatre.  I used to play dress ups and create my own worlds to play in. Sometimes I’d invite the kids next door or down the road.  Wrapped in purple fabric wearing fake pearls, I would become a fairy queen who had to travel to garage land to see what was happening in the back of the cupboard.

My favorite movie was the Wizard of Oz and I watched it nearly everyday, I would sit in the back room at nans place head to toe in random things watching, I was convinced I was Dorothy and that one day I too would go to Oz and make friends with a big bunch of beautiful weirdos. Growing up in a small town we didn’t have access to drama class like kids in the city, so we didn’t have a lot of recourse. When I was 11 the school I was going to decided to put on a play, a musical, I had no idea what that was.. I had no idea what theatre was until they said the name.. the Wizard of Oz. My time had come. This was my world and I am Dorothy. I practiced singing over the rainbow for days walking up and down the street, in the shower, loudly in my room. I’m sure I drove my whole street crazy, but I didn’t care. The day of auditions arrived and I was nervous, at 11 years old I was 6 foot tall, a bean pole, most of the kids came up to my belly button. I didn’t really fit in with the other kids very well, I was different even with the theatre kids.  But I knew the world of Oz in my bones, I am Dorothy. I sang my heart out, I put on voices and I shined as bright as I could. “Somewhere over the rainbow! Skies are blue” The day the names were put up out the front of the tuck shop I was nervous and ran with the other kids as fast as I could to see if I was Dorothy, looked at that page for a good few seconds before realising, I wasn’t. My heart sank and then I spotted my name down the page Amy…. The Wicked Witch. Something clicked. Oh.  

She’s a really special character, I hope one day someone writes a musical about her, because her journey is a really important one.”

Tell Us Your Story

We want to hear from YOU! Send your story on the topic of HOW YOUTH DRAMA CHANGED MY LIFE, and an accompanying photo, to hello@jumpstartyouththeatre.com

Not sure what to say? Here’s some ideas:

  • How did you get involved in drama?
  • How did drama it benefited you at the time / your development as a young person?
  • What you do now?
  • How you applied the skills or benefits of drama to your life as an adult and/or in your career?

We can’t wait to hear from you!

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