Testimonial #21: Cathlyn Melvin, Director Compass Creative Dramatics

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had to fill an empty hour. The composition class I really wanted to take wasn’t open to 10th graders, so I dug through our course catalogue to find something that would interest me. I went to a public school that didn’t provide much beyond immediate course requirements, so I ended up taking an acting class, even though I knew, by reputation, that this was a class that kids took for an easy A. I didn’t have much faith that I would learn anything, but the government said I had to be in school for that hour, so I had to sign up for something.

I knew the teacher – I had him for freshman English when we read “Romeo & Juliet”. He was one of the strongest teachers I had (one of the reasons I wanted to take his comp class!). Unfortunately, he was swimming upstream with this slacker course, and I didn’t get much from most of the class.

At the end of the semester, we were supposed to prepare a scene. I knew I wanted to do a solo piece, but I was at a loss for what to choose. He asked me if I would consider doing Shakespeare, and he helped me cut some of Juliet’s monologues into a story arc.

This was the first time I got to work with Shakespeare’s language, outside of simply reading the text, and it was maybe the first step in leading me to study classical theatre in college. I love Shakespeare (Shakespeare and children’s theatre are my two favorite genres!) and looking back, I’m very appreciative of Mr. Heling’s willingness to take the extra measure and work on something that was up my alley – and challenging.

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