Little Women is one of my favorite musicals. Though the writing of the show can be weak (and very frustrating) at times, the show is near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen the show a handful of times and have always wanted to be a part of the production. When I found out that my college was doing the show last year, I was over the moon. The idea of auditioning was so exciting to me, and a few close friends in my life told me, “Ah man, you would play such a great Amy!” Here’s the deal though: I used to hate Amy March. Oh goodness, her track made me want to bang my head against the wall; the character was so irritating to me! Low and behold though, when auditions and callbacks ran their course, I found myself with the wonderful opportunity to bring this girl to life on stage.
Since I’ve been involved in the performing arts, I’ve often been cast in “presentational” roles. In other words, I’ve had a lot of practice playing very silly and outlandish characters. It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I started to get the opportunities to play more grounded-in-reality characters, and even then, most of them have had some sort of quirky trait to them. Because of this, I have a tendency to be overly-punchy (punchy: v. to be very extra on stage) with my character choices. Recently, I’ve been working with my professors to become a more honest actress, which involves being pretty vulnerable on stage. This can be extremely scary at times. The best way I can describe it is feeling like you’re standing naked in front of people who are expecting some amazing feat from you. At first, you feel small, nervous, and like you want to burst into tears (and sometimes you do). But the more you do it, the more confidence you gain in yourself, and the more you realize you actually do have clothes on and that you are in control of what the audience sees from you.
The biggest challenge with Amy is seeing past her bratty nature. This girl is the youngest of four and looks up to her three older sisters. She especially idolizes Jo, but does not have a healthy way of expressing that, nor is she receiving the gentle, redirecting love she needs from an older sibling. Instead, she is harshly told her interests are silly and that she can’t come along to things she’s too young for. In a moment of frustration, Amy takes out her anger in a very destructive way. There is a reason she does the things she does. There is a reason she talks the way she talks. There is a reason she reacts the way she reacts. There is a reason she is the way she is: it is due to the influences of the people in her life.
Through this character study, I have come to better understand how to deal with not only hard-to-love roles, but also hard-to-love people. Everyone is the way they are due to the
thousands of influences they have had in the span of their life. Via friendships, work, schooling, family dynamics, trauma, triumphs and so much more, we are shaped by the people and events that we encounter everyday. For example, I write the word “and” in a certain way because when I was six years old, a high school-aged girl was teaching a lesson in my Sunday School class and I saw her draw her “ands” in a way that my six-year-old self thought was really stinkin’ cool. The same goes for how I react to stressful social interactions, especially with other women. Because of multiple experiences going back to elementary school, I have had a hard time feeling like other females actually want to be my friend. It’s a really hard thing to deal with, especially when I’m constantly paranoid that ladies are gossiping about me behind my back. While in my head, I know that most of the time, this is not the case, due to previous experiences, I have been conditioned to be weary.
By walking (and running, stamping and dancing) in Amy’s shoes for the past two months, I feel that I better understand how to interact with hard-to-love people. When you play a character that you constantly feel that you are sticking up for, you find yourself saying the sentence, “They are the way they are for a reason,” an awful lot. While there is no excuse to treat people poorly, it is helpful to have the understanding that people don’t just lash out for no apparent reason. We are complex human beings who want understanding and love. Little Women will continue to be a show I hold near and dear to my heart, but now with a much deeper appreciation for this story. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Morgan Mallory and Dr. Paul Hindemith for giving me the opportunity to bring Amy March to life in our production. Getting to work on this show was one of the most educational experiences I could have gotten as a college student and I am so grateful for the many ways I’ve been able to grow while working on this process. This show has taught me once again to put my preconceived notions of people aside and truly look at the core of other broken, multilayered human beings.
Thank you, Miss March, for working on my heart with your story.
Until Next Time,