By Caroline Zakhari
Lily Crooks joined the drama club at Central High School because she thought it would make high school fun. At least, that’s what her mom and other members of her family told her, and they were right. Her sophomore year, therefore, was particularly fun, as she was a part of three plays: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The One Acts, and Pinocchio.
Not that the stage was the only way to have fun, but Lily understood herself and choose to be on stage instead of in the background. “I am not very good at making things,” Lily said. “I figured I would have a better chance being on stage than helping with the making of the plays.”
Part of the joy is that when she is on stage she doesn’t have to be her. She can be almost anybody, bringing life to the character she is playing. Within the play she can find similarities between her and the person she is becoming as soon as she gets into her costume.
That empathy and understanding may translate beyond her knowledge of characters. Being a part of something so special with people who have so much kindness within them can really rub off. “I have come to understand the true value of kindness,” Lily said.
“My favorite part is definitely the other people. They have taught me so much, but the most important thing I have learned is that even though you think you can’t do something you can try and not be judged, and chances are you’re better at it than you thought.” A case in point was Lily’s learning to dance. After arriving at her first audition, she discovered she would need to learn three dances; yet her whole life she had thought that she really and truly could not dance. She did it, however, and now she sees that she was never as bad as she thought, that she just needed to believe in herself. That is what theatre can do for people: it shows that you can be and do anything you aspire to do.
Lily’s love for theatre is what makes the worst parts of it so bad: senior send-offs and strike. “When it is time for strike after each show you just take down the entire set, and it is sad because you are saying good bye to something that you worked so hard on and you are saying good bye to something that helped you grow. That is the same with the senior send-offs. You are saying goodbye to this person who has helped you grow and become your family at school and the seniors say good bye to everything they have been a part of, the other theater kids, the plays, everything.”
The turnout for auditions for this fall’s play, The Great Gatsby, was huge, and Lily was one of those selected for the cast. She’ll play the character Myrtle Wilson.
The girl with the brightest red hair of all is truly the part for Lily. “I’m really looking forward to receiving a stage slap and giving a stage slap,” said Lily. “Also I get to get hit by a car and die on stage and just lay there for a while, and I think that is kind of funny.”
The theater is really and truly a safe place, making Lily feel welcomed and wanted. It helps her and her fellow drama club members get through things that they are struggling with because they find that they aren’t the only ones with those problems; they can help each other get through it.
“Theater is one of the only reasons I come to school,” Lily said, and it is like this for many of the hardest working kids in show biz.