There is a fortune from a fortune cookie taped to my work computer. It says, “You will never know your full potential until you try.” I didn’t even put it there. In fact, I hardly even noticed it until today.
The Women’s Theatre Festival was not easy. Nobody thought it would be. But I don’t think anyone realized quite how much work it would really be.
My first involvement with the festival was with the pitching process. I heard they were looking for suggestions of shows to produce. I immediately thought of a show produced by the Women’s Theatre Troupe at Appalachian State my senior year called Decision Height. I sent in a suggestion. Then I got an email asking me to write up a short summary of the play. Okay, sure. Then I got an email asking me to make a little proposal video to present to the committee. Alright, I guess I can do that. Then I got an email asking me to create a proposed budget for the show. I paused. I thought we were just throwing out suggestions! But I had already put in that much work, I might as well complete this step. Then I was asked to assemble an entire production team, without even knowing if the play would be chosen to be performed. But I had come this far. I’d do my best. Before I knew it, I was producing a play all by myself.
It was not easy. Throughout the process, I think we had around 13 people back out of various positions. We lost our original director while still in the voting process. We lost two stage managers (eternal thank yous to Ami Kirk Jones), countless lighting designers, more than half of our actors.
It was NOT easy. Tensions were high between many members of the production team. Strong personalities, differences of opinion, uncertainty as to who was responsible for what, and all the things that go on behind the scenes that most people never get to see. I know I’d never seen them before. But somehow we came out of it on the other side having produced a highly successful show. We got fantastic reviews. We had decent audiences each night. We told an important story that hasn’t often been told. But most importantly, we realized our potential. We are women and we are capable of doing anything. They said we couldn’t pull it off, and we showed them we sure as hell could.
And this was just the first year! If a bunch of women could come together and produce something so magnificent from scratch with no blueprint, just imagine what we can do next.
Headshot photo credit Natalie Ryan Carpenter
Decision Height photo credit Rebecca Werlin