Wilton Warrior Words: Over the rainbow

Olivia Vitarelli

Olivia Vitarelli

Hearst Connecticut Media

As I entered my senior year, I was keenly aware of the inevitable nature of “lasts.” What I did not fully process, or even consider, is that this entire year is a series of goodbyes, some glaring and boastful and others modest and inconspicuous. I would argue that the glaring goodbyes, like my soccer senior night, are easier. Since my freshman year, I was reminded of the ceremonial parting from the sport that crept closer every year. When my senior season arrived, I was equipped with the blissful awareness that this was a last. I knew to savor and enjoy every bus ride, team dinner, and game. That way, when the season closed, I felt grateful, not blindsided. However, that shocked and blindsided sensation has recently overcome me. My impending last shows with Freeplay, Wilton High School’s improv troupe, have freshly revealed themselves to me. A sneaky goodbye now awaits.

The emotions and implications of saying goodbye to Freeplay are layered. Improvising teaches you a legion of life lessons. I have learned the importance of taking safe risks, feeling the fear and doing it anyway, embracing my inner self-confidence, and saying yes. Improv begs for truth and collaboration. It requires activation of the hive mind. In turn, it fosters a community unlike anything else: a group of relentlessly collaborative, supportive, and kind people. It is this atmosphere that makes Freeplay inherently special and irreplaceable. Heather DeLude, Freeplay founder, director, and improv extraordinaire, has cultivated this incomparable environment. She allows and encourages us to be ourselves and lean into our individuality. She taught us the invaluable lesson that playing small does not serve the world.

I remember the first time I watched “The Wizard of Oz.” I felt utterly shocked when Dorothy was leaving Oz and overtly told the Scarecrow, in front of both the Tin Man and the Lion, that she would miss him most of all. It was rude and I was unimpressed by Dorothy’s need to disclose her social hierarchy. However, in the spirit of goodbyes, I will take a page out of Dorothy’s ill-mannered book. Going to improv rehearsals after school and laughing so hard that I have to turn around and think about homework before my air supply cuts off, I will miss you. Journeying over the rainbow to the Little Theater after school and immediately feeling any stress evaporate from within, I will miss you, too. But the people who comprise this magical community, who always offer a bright smile in the hallway, accept others, and exude kindness and happiness, I think I will miss you most of all.

Next week you will have the opportunity to see Freeplay three times, Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. If you want to experience breath-stifling laughter and join me on this goodbye before I click my heels three times, meet us in the Little Theater!

Plus, the following week, Wilton High School theater will be presenting our senior show, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Join us in the Clune center for laughs and, of course, spelling. My experiences in improv and theater have been nothing short of a dream: an invigorating and wondrous journey through Oz. To the Scarecrows who have infused magic into each experience, thank you. I truly will miss you most of all.

Olivia Vitarelli is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with three classmates.