Warrior Words: When in Wonderland

I made my theatrical debut as the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland at age 7. Immediately following, I told myself I was going to become an actor, and that was that. I began voice and acting lessons, and you could find me rehearsing for some musical nearly every day of the week. I auditioned for everything I could, and thus gained the title of a “theater kid.”
Fast forward nine years to my junior year of high school. My dad and I are touring the theater department at an excellent university that offers a bachelor of fine and performing arts in musical theater. The weather was beautiful, our tour guide was extremely friendly, and I saw some of the most beautiful theaters I’ve ever seen. But something wasn’t right. My instincts were pulling at my gut, telling me something was off and I could not go here. But I had told myself this was my dream, and there was nothing not to like! So I suppressed those feelings nagging at me, smiled, and told our guide I couldn’t wait to come back and audition in September.
Well, it’s November now, and I haven’t been back. In fact, I ditched the college audition process entirely, and I’m not even applying to my former dream school. What was off about that school wasn’t the theater department or the guide, but it was that in pursuing a BFA in musical theater, I was making a bold statement that this is what I want to do with my life. And that’s just not true. At 17, I have been in a total of 30 shows and I have enjoyed them immensely — but that’s really all I’ve done. Sure, I’ve participated in clubs and even tried my hand at sports, but the world is huge and there’s so much I have yet to see. So I can’t commit to only theater now.
Theater has provided me with an incredible home where I have developed confidence, stage presence, and a love of people. It’s been my home, and my safe space. But if we stay safe forever, then we won’t learn anything about ourselves or the world, and we’ll always stay the same. I want to be constantly bettering myself, so I cannot take the label I gave myself at age 7 and stick with it forever. When I go off to college, nobody is going to know who I am, or who I was back here in Wilton. In college, I can be whoever I want to be. But for now, I am a theater kid, and I am going to make my last year the best I possibly can.
Last night, my last fall play, which also happens to be Alice in Wonderland, opened at Wilton High School’s Little Theater. Alice in Wonderland tells the tale of Alice, a 12-year-old girl, as she adventures through Wonderland and ends up a changed person. Alice must go through the 10 different squares of the chessboard before returning home, and along the way she encounters many creatures, including a caterpillar, Humpty Dumpty, the Queen of Hearts, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum (that’s me!) and even gains the title of queen herself. As cliché as it is, I like to think of myself as Alice — theater has taken me on a wild ride and I used to think I’d stay in Wonderland forever, but I’m on my last square of the chessboard; it’s almost time for me to leave Wonderland to find out who I am.
I have been incredibly lucky to have seen the world as a theater kid the past 10 years, but I’m ready to see the world from a new lens, and in nine months, I will. Now, since you’ve made it this far into my article, you can go just a little bit further for me and come and see Alice in Wonderland at Wilton High School! You won’t regret it.
Tonight, Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7:30. Tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 11, at 8. Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1 and 5.
Call 203-834-8844 for tickets.

Julia Foodman is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.