Guest Writer: Isaac Derkach
As a musical theatre major, it is expected of me to have some kind of summer acting work. Some go off to theme parks, others head for summer theatres and a few even land some purely musical gigs. Me? I get to spend my summers with some of the harshest critics and liveliest audiences. They are extremely demanding arts connoisseurs, but they pay well. There is no middle ground for them; you are either beloved or the scourge of the industry. Of course, I’m talking about little kids.
My job as a cast member for my hometown’s annual Faeries, Sprites and Lights event is to help little kids of all ages bring their dreams and imaginations to life in technicolor. We dress up as royalty, we make flowers out of felt and pipe cleaners, we groove to one-hit wonders of the 80s. Most importantly, we look for faeries: little jewel-toned mischief makers that live in the bells of tulips and play volleyball when no one’s looking. They’re an elusive bunch, but nothing beats spotting a faerie with your own two eyes.
I think that’s why kids are so great; their imaginations are as vast as the cosmos. The sky can’t even be a limit because their wild, gargantuan dreams would shatter it. Kids can be anyone, go anywhere and do anything. How is that? No one told them they couldn’t.
I remember getting strange looks from the people at church when I told them I wanted to try out for summer color guard. It was the same look I got from my band director when I told him I wanted to play the flute; the same look I got from family when I told them I wanted to help start an arts camp in Bogota; the same look I got from a voice teacher when I told him I wanted to sing like Florence Welch; the same look I got from a music pastor when I told him I wanted to record an EP. Y’know, “the look.”
Growing up means you get “the look” as often as you hear your own name. It’s that blend of snarky derision and intense doubt that boils down into pursed lips, cocked eyebrows and lowered eyelids. “Yeah, right. Whatever.” It’s that silent euphemism for telling someone they will never succeed and that their time spent trying is time wasted. Somehow a backhand is less painful to receive.
This is what ushers us into adulthood. We cast aside the “stupid” dreams for something more profitable and realistic. We do the things that make people pat us on the back, smile wryly and hand us congratulatory pieces of paper. We adopt the status quo of the waking world because we weren’t good enough for our dreams. We give up spotting faeries because they can’t be real.
But what if they are?
What if you’re actually a great dancer, but you’re just untrained? What if you’re a globe-traveler, but you’ve just hesitated on getting a passport? What if you’re really a surgeon, but no one sees you when your hands are steady? What if you could be anyone, go anywhere and do anything, and the people who said otherwise were wrong?
I don’t have all the answers. If I did, I would write them down and become a best-selling author. But I do have one answer. As a veteran Faeries, Sprites and Lights cast member, I can tell you this: faeries are as real as you need them to be.
Isaac Derkach is a musical theatre major from Muncie, Indiana.