Manual students performed in a recent YPAS production of Urinetown. Photo by Cayce Crowder Abellard
Manual students performed in a recent YPAS production of Urinetown. Photo by Cayce Crowder Abellard

How student actors at Manual balance their life

Whether they’re vying for a role in Poe or Urinetown, student actors are always memorizing new lines, songs and blocking. The work that goes into preparing for a performance in and out of YPAS is significant. One of the pillars of the Manual community is “Excellence.” Manual students are pushed to challenge themselves academically through their access to advanced and AP classes. Teachers are supportive of students’ extracurricular endeavors, although that does not mean that homework, projects and presentations take up any less time in the life of a student actor.   Students that also tackle acting, or playing an instrument, or a sport must prioritize their time in order to survive and thrive. 

“I feel like the workload is pretty sufficient, especially with how much they encourage you to do outside of school when it comes to performing arts and extracurriculars and whatnot. At least a lot of the teachers that I’ve had have been really, really understanding about how much they’re giving us to do outside of class and in class at the same time,” MJ Alt (9, YPAS) said. 

As a freshman, Alt finds the transition from middle to high school to be another stress factor. Alt expressed that the middle to high school transition caused stress, however, they still chose to begin a high school theater career immediately as opposed to waiting a year to get situated with academics. Alt finds that cast bonding during productions can sometimes relieve the stress caused by juggling both school and theater. Additionally, Alt loves the feeling of accomplishment that comes with being on stage. 

One challenge faced by actors and athletes alike is time management. Kennyon Stewart (10,YPAS) finds that his struggle comes from time management. 

“A lot of the time, I think, I don’t know which one I need to put first, ya know, but it all comes down to if I know I can memorize lines or not,” Stewart said. However, Stewart finds that he plans his school schedule around his acting, explaining that it takes precedent. Stewart finds that acting fulfills him and understands prioritizing what makes himself happy. Nevertheless, school can still be very stressful for a student actor. 

Student actors don’t go through the hardships of handling theater and school for nothing. Stewart and Alt feel a strong connection to the theater’s community and support system. Both expressed that theater helps them cope with life and school, and is a positive release for their emotions. Stewart loves being on the stage, and even acknowledges that he relishes the applause at the end of a performance. Moreover, Alt and Stewart expressed a great appreciation for the community of theater; they explain that other people who go through similar experiences balancing extracurriculars and school are very supportive when stress levels get high. 

“If I just had like a bunch of people who were just tearing down everything I ever did in theater, I would never want to be on the stage. But because it’s so supportive and they’re wanting you to get better and they’re helping you every step of the way, it feels like you’re not alone,” Maya Williamson (10, YPAS) said. Williamson continued to explain that when she struggles with homework or an assignment, she can always text a friend in theater who will have her back.

“It makes it all worth it and when they grow you grow,” Williamson said. Adoration for the acting community runs deep in and out of YPAS,  as Williamson said that she wouldn’t have a reason to continue theater if she didn’t have the community.

Whether it is memorizing lines or cramming for AP World History, young student actors manage their lives with a masterful efficiency. Talented students deserve recognition for their efforts to produce excellent performances. Next time a student actor passes in the hall, remember all that they  produce, stage and perform.

About the Contributor
Navarre Baharestan is a staffer on RedEye. He enjoys listening to Pop or Country music and singing. Navarre enjoys to write about social and economic issues and how we can help the community around us. You can contact him at [email protected].
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