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Monday, May 20, 2024

Don't even talk to me about deadlines. At this point, I'm a deadline professional. Without them, I'd be lost. I've relied on major deadlines for most of my education.

I was a theater nerd in high school. I could quote any of the very popular musicals, could tell you the difference between Samuel Beckett and Arthur Miller and somehow owned more black clothing than the average high school student. The black clothing came in handy for performances and working backstage during shows.

High school theater, for me, was all about having fun. The problem lies in having too much fun and then you forget about deadlines. Too often we were rushing to finish the scenery the week of opening night. More likely than not, our director would have to work unbelievable hours just to make sure the show would go off without a hitch.

But of course, there would be hitches. Microphones ran out of batteries, curtains weren't pulled fast enough and actors tripped and almost ruined their costumes. That's all part of the experience, though.

Similar situations have happened in college, too.

I didn't want to do theater for the rest of my life, but I knew I'd need a creative outlet. That's why, when I was a puny freshman, I joined Theatre Strike Force and had my eyes opened to the crazy world of improv comedy.

TSF also does sketch comedy, which is just like high school theater all over again.

Over the past three years, I've been a part of our major semesterly shows. Our latest is this Thursday and might be pretty controversial to the extremely school-spirited. Either way, I've been able to help the creative vision of our writers and directors be communicated to huge audiences. That's such a special experience.

But I've also seen those shows almost fall apart. Props weren't made on time, sketches were rewritten hours before the show and audiences took their sweet time to show up.

Performances of any kind can be nerve-wracking and terrifying. It can be scary to put yourself out there and represent your school in some capacity.

At the end of the day, though, everything always came together - no matter what.

The shows I'm a part of now are just as wonderful. It's always wonderful to watch any kind of improv show. Somehow, even without a script or prior knowledge, magic happens on stage. Put those minds in creative positions, and the funniest sketches come to life. All of TSF's members were drawn to the club because of a show they had seen, so the pressure is always on to be the funniest and the best.

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Being involved in productions for so many years of my life has taught me a lot.

It's taught me that those deadlines are both scare tactics and for your own good. I've learned to listen to your director and stage manager because they know your schedule and personality better than you do. I've learned that you need a script to give organization to your life, but that it's more than OK to break away from it every once in a while. I know now that, in all kinds of theater, teamwork is one of the most important and necessary things.

After all that, I'm going to drop a simile on you. Get ready.

The performing arts are like taking care of a pet.

You're so excited when you first get involved. It teaches you how to have fun while being responsible and accountable. But if you neglect it, even for a minute, you could have a large, stinky mess all over the place.

Don't neglect the local arts, folks.

Sami Main is a journalism junior at UF. Her column appears on Tuesdays.

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