I can still remember what I wore on my first day of school in 7th grade. Stonewashed jean leggings, white Reebok high tops with fuchsia socks rolled down, a matching fuchsia T-Shirt and a high ponytail with white and fuchsia scrunchies. It was a brand new school and I was nervous. I had signed up for basketball and after classes I headed to the gym. While running laps for warm up, I could see the older students running in the front, familiar and excited to be together again for another year. The school was grades 7-12 and because of the small population of students we got to practice with the upperclassmen. I spotted one girl, Sara Lovato, who I recognized. The previous year I did a school visit and was abandoned at lunch by my 8th grade tour guide who didn’t want to be seen with a nerdy 6th grader tagging along. Sara noticed that I was out of place and she offered to take me to lunch. She bought me nachos. Seeing her again I got a rush of connection and stated to the girl running next to me “I know her, see the tall girl with the black hair? I know her.” Sara remembered me, and from then on we formed a friendship that continues today. Despite the distance, she lives in Denver and recently received her PhD in Pharmacology, we stay in touch. Those rare but wonderful times we do get to see each other we are able to pick up where we left of and enjoy catching each other up on our lives. It was that recognition that enabled me to feel like I had a place at this new school, that I belonged. That connection and friendship was the foundation of the community I became a part of.
Today was the first day of rehearsal for Boston Court’s production of Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles at the Getty Villa Outdoor Classical Theatre. It’s a brand new theatre and I was nervous. But similarly to that first day of 7th grade it was the recognition from familiar faces that began to create our community. I saw the talented faces of those I have worked with before, those whose work I have known, and those who I met for the first time. These faces, familiar and new, are those that will be with me on this journey. This is our village, our tribe, our community.
Our first day was filled with paperwork, costume measurements, meet and greets, emergency procedure presentations, dramaturgical presentations, design team presentations, a reading of the script and electing our Equity deputy. A full day, a long day, an exciting day. I could feel the buzz in the air when we would go on breaks and people would drop into conversations, mingling over the gummy bears and pretzels. This production has so many hearts, minds and souls invested in it. We are conjuring a world of old and new, familiar and unknown, ancient and contemporary. Tomorrow we are creating a group altar and diving back into the text.
I began the day with coffee and a smoothie made with love by my partner Miles Gaston Villanueva. Later in the day he wrote an incredible post on Facebook and invited people to send me well wishes and congrats for my “First Day of School.” A slew of people responded, many I knew, many I didn’t. The comments all contained such positive energy and support. No matter one’s views on Facebook or other social media forums, they are communities. These communities are made up of people we know and people we don’t. It’s how we interact and communicate that matters.
I’m still nervous. I probably will be for the entire run of the show. I know it’s because the work is important. The story is essential. The art form is crucial. This is my community and I have a responsibility to be an active member. The familiar faces, the new energy, the kind words and gestures are what remind me that I am a part of something. Something full of potential and possibility…