It was a day my show could have used. After a 45-minute audition, which occurred in a hotel ballroom, the word came back that she was booked to work with a major network’s children’s TV show. I missed the show and only realized a few days later that she had worked with my age group on the morning of our audition.
Both of us had auditioned for different roles, but we ended up working together. “Can I sit here while you’re out?” she said to me, as we’d started telling our stories. “We can talk something into you.”
She hadn’t finished. “You don’t look the same as last time you saw me,” she said. “Do you see me more in the theater? Or in the younger members of my cast?”
I was intrigued. I thought to myself, do I want to adopt her?
This is something most women my age have come to accept as a part of our lives: Either your grandchildren are just beyond the birth range you were born into, and I will have to worry about them having the same problems, issues or life satisfaction as I have, or they are young enough to grow into the demographic that you’ve inherited your mother, your grandmother, the friends you can make from when you’re a kid, your work friends, your school friends. Either way, you know you’ll be around for long enough that one day, their ages might make them age into your audience.
It turns out, though, that it is not necessarily a looming risk, but a tiny novelty. As a youngster, Ellie discovered menopause was something she could relate to on stage when she performed in plays, and it turns out it is the reason she has been so seduced by the Theatre Program at Parsons School of Design.
“There’s an interesting parallel between the rites of passage that everyone has to go through in their 20s and 30s and the rite of passage that the theater brings me and my peers through,” she says. “The rituals bring us together like no other thing does.”
In fact, the ritual of theater for Ellie is so captivating, she couldn’t wait to apply. “It changed my mind completely,” she says. “I was ready to do it.”
She is a senior this year, and although she loves Parsons, she had some reservations about returning to the classroom. “I don’t like the work,” she says. “You have to do it, and it is something you have to fall back on all the time.”
However, after spending time on the stage and away from it at work, she discovered it was nothing like she expected.
“I loved it more than I expected,” she says. “That was the surreal part.”
Ellie is quite thorough in her plan to focus on theater until she graduates.
“I’m not willing to let it go,” she says. “I’m not an artist, so I don’t really enjoy it. I like it because there is something magical about performing.”
I feel that. I enjoy watching theater. It feels uniquely unique, far more powerful and exciting, than watching movies, TV or even music. If this is an achievement in and of itself, then I will surely be elated once her theater career has come to an end.