Isabella Patten

See below for a link to Isabella’s audio file.


Embarrassment, Theatre, and Forgiveness

If one wanted to embarrass herself to the point of no return, I would recommend theatre. One of my more embarrassing moments occurred in the spring of ninth grade in a community production of Cinderella. I played one of the stepsisters (the more obnoxious of the two), a role which I enjoyed thoroughly because being the loudest, most annoying person in the room with no repercussions is always fun. As my fellow cast members and I sat backstage waiting to perform the show for the last time, the actress who played Cinderella offered to do my makeup. I, knowing virtually nothing about makeup, gladly agreed and told her to have fun with it, which she most definitely did. When I looked in the mirror, my eyelids were covered in streaks of black, blue, orange, and yellow, my cheeks were somehow ten times redder than usual, and my lips were bright blue and purple. I was honestly appalled and didn’t even want to think about the fact that in less than an hour, approximately 150 people would all watch me dance, sing, and act, all with the monstrosity that was my face. Since I didn’t want to redo the makeup, my need to be lazy overpowered my embarrassment. I laughed it off and decided I would just absorb the makeup look into my character. All of my lines were louder and more annoying now. My singing was even more nasally. I exaggerated my facial expressions to complement my already crazy face. It was the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done, but it was also some of the most fun I’ve ever had. As surprised as I was, I didn’t leave the theatre feeling embarrassed, I felt amazing without a clue as to why.

The second most embarrassing thing I’ve ever experienced, you guessed it, also occurred in the realm of theatre. In my junior year, I was looking for a funny song to perform at the state theatre competition and was subsequently introduced to “Screw Loose.” “Screw Loose,” a name very fitting for the song, is about a girl with a massive crush. . . and voices in her head. The song occurs during a part of the show where a character takes an opportunity to sing a ballad devoted to her love for the male lead and her current state of mental health. Throughout the song, I got to shout, sing notes that neither I nor the character could really hit, and dance/spin/twirl around the stage- all in front of friends, family, strangers, and others whose opinion I valued. In any other setting, I would have immediately crawled under the covers and never came back out. Instead, I felt proud and accomplished. I had made people laugh. I had acted absolutely crazy, bonkers, like I’d lost all of my marbles…..and they enjoyed it! I made someone else happy all while just goofing off. It felt amazing.

Fortunately, not all theatre involves purposeful embarrassment of oneself, though that particular aspect of theatre has made up most of my high school career. Onstage I get to laugh, cry, break down, and sometimes die, but once the curtains close, I go back to my regular life. It’s part of the beauty of theatre: you get to live out your worst and best-case scenarios without the real-life consequences. You can be whoever you want, experience things you would never do otherwise, and likely learn a little bit more about yourself, and you get to do all of it for other people to enjoy. I can do crazy poses and dances in one show, and in the next give a desperate cry for help to God. All of the things I can’t process in real life, I get to experiment within theatre. It’s like a rough draft for your life. All of the little mistakes and goof-ups I have on a daily basis seem like nothing. I can deal with my own faults while also having fun.

Life is full of embarrassing moments. I have them all the time, but over the years, my time in theatre has taught me that it truly is okay to mess up. I have struggled with my mental health and willingness to forgive myself for a long time. Frankly, I’m still struggling with those things. If I can allow myself to fall on my face in front of hundreds of people, sing off key while my friends and family watch, and ugly-cry in front of my biggest crush, I can allow myself to recover from the real life screw ups too. Through theatre, I have gained many things like friends, new relationships, and a new passion, but most importantly, I have gained the ability to forgive myself.

Please click on the arrow below to hear Isabella’s Senior Reading.