(This is the continuation of a series where I sort through old stuff, and you – lucky, lucky you! – get to see what I have found. I do such good work here, don’t I?)
As a child, my answer to the “What do you want to be when you grow up question?” was “Actress, writer and teacher”…in no particular order.
Clearly, I was leaning towards “actress” when I posed for this fake magazine cover at Canada’s Wonderland one summer. I can’t really explain the business-woman-slash-scarecrow look…though maybe a screenwriter wants to jump all over that idea? Futuristic stuff is so overdone; really we need to go to back to the farm for good material.
When I was younger, I participated in a lot of Drama camps, and when a local professional theatre was looking for a couple of child actors to share a role (Gloria in “Wait Until Dark“, in case you’re dying to know exactly what the part was), one of my Drama teachers called my parents to suggest I try out.
I don’t remember many of the audition details, but I do recall that we did a lot of improv, which to this day I would swear I am terrible at, though being almost ten and a strong reader with a great memory probably helped tip the scales. Give me a script and I can do whatever you want, but I certainly can’t imagine shining while making things up on the spot. (Though it’s possible that I overestimate my self-consciousness, forgetting that it has increased over time, and my current level does not necessarily reflect where I was 25 years ago.)
Whatever it was, I got the part (along with fellow child “actor” Leslie Wood), and it was an amazing summer. We also costarred with several professional actors, including Gabrielle Rose, whom you may recognize from her work in television and film. (When I made my Confirmation the next year, I actually chose “Gabrielle” as my Confirmation name.)
Going through my souvenirs brought back a lot of memories:
Script (with blocking notes) and program
(Yep, that’s me, Katie Leahy. If you zoom in, you can see that they referred to me as “an avid athlete”. Come back when you’re done laughing at that PR spin.)
Leslie and I were even interviewed for the local news, and of course I pulled out that video and watched it (before handing it over to my kind Uncle Dave to transfer it from VHS to DVD). I lost touch with Leslie soon after that (she now lives out West) but coincidentally enough ran into her just this past Christmas at…you’d never guess…a local theatre production!
Fast forward to Grade 11, when I landed the coveted part of Marie Fontbonne, sister to Sister Jeanne Fontbonne (that double ‘sister’ is intentional; they were both nuns), founder of the Sisters Of St. Joseph. Since the director was also writing the script, and still revising as rehearsals began, I actually do recall some successful improv there. I vividly remember spontaneously blessing myself during one scene (I think we had been imprisoned in France for refusing to sign the Oath of Civil Constitution of the Clergy…and come to think of it, that’s a really underutilized theme in Hollywood as well), and the director commented “Nice. Very nice. Leave that in.” See what power we have as teachers when I can remember that moment like it was yesterday?
I had both of the posters framed for posterity, though they have never been on display. However, I have been looking for something new for the living room…I certainly hope my daughters don’t throw them out someday with no concern for their sentimental value. I would so totally never do that to them.
While I more or less managed to find a remedy for the acting bug (still no cure for teaching or writing), there’s still a part of me that would love to be on screen, in some capacity, and I did actually go out on a limb (waaaay out on a limb) and make an attempt recently (remember, the yellow dress?)…which is a story I still plan to share with you in the future.