Meet Dara – a young, fun and very talented Creative Mind. Dara and Madeline first met in a martial arts program in the Pacific Northwest and quickly discovered they had many similarities and common interests, including blogging. Recently Dara created a new blog titled, Thallia’s Tree. The blog highlights Dara’s engineering and programming projects, and even talks about her experience in theater and improv.
Thallia’s Tree was such a stunning teen blog that we knew we had to interview Dara as our next creative mind. Since Dara’s talents are so diverse, we decided to break up this interview into two posts – this first one about her work in theater and the second is focused on her passion for computer programming and engineering.
Dara, now 17, has spent many years in the world of theater, specifically with a very talented grouped called Journey Theater Arts Group. Now coming up on eleven years of theater, Dara has had many experiences ranging from acting, to stage management and she even does improv – which is a live, unscripted performance where scenes and stories are made up in the moment. She has participated in many theater based events such as shows, classes and even improv competitions. This year, she won an All Star Award for the most skilled and supportive member of her improv team.
Here is part one of our interview with the creative mind of Dara.
The Saturn Creative Team: How did your journey in theatre/improv begin?
Dara: My Nana used to be a teacher, and one of her students took part in a local theater group. My Nana took me to all the shows they performed from the time I was about four. When I turned six, I started taking part in the summer camps each year (which were a blast) until I was able to fit their weekly classes into my schedule at the age of eleven. From then on, I experimented with all the beginning classes they offered, from dance and singing, to acting and making costumes. Eventually I took a beginning improv class and fell in love with the art, and I’ve stuck to doing it ever since.
S.C.T: What is your earliest memory of theater/improv?
Dara: My earliest memory of theater in general has to be a little kid’s class I took around the age of six. I was so excited about being a pirate and getting to say one line while waving my sword!
S.C.T: In one of your blog posts on Thallia’s Tree, you mention that you were “riding home from one of your last improv competitions”. Did you mean the last competition of that year; or last competitions as you know it?
Dara: There’s only one Improv Invasion each year with JTAG, and I’m almost aged out. Next year will be the last year I could take part in improv, but it all depends on my schedule whether or not I’ll be able to do it! So this past competition could’ve been my last one. So sad!
S.C.T: When you were a member of the Journey Theater Arts Group, what made you decide to join the stage management team?
Dara: I took part in one of their big productions one time, and it was a hoot! I had a wonderful time being a part of the cast, but as I grew more into loving improv and other hobbies, I wanted to try being one of the crew in a Journey show. I was chosen to be the Stage Manager, who leads the whole crew in their jobs and runs the lights, sounds, and scene changes from behind the scenes. It was so much work, but the payoff was a wonderful show.
S.C.T: Which do you prefer: Plays with pre-written scripts, or improv?
Dara: Oh man, this is a hard question. As much as I love pre-written shows like Singin’ In the Rain and White Christmas (two shows I’ve had the opportunity to Stage Manage), I gotta say improv is my favorite. I like improv more because there’s nothing to memorize, but also the immense fun that you have when you’re practicing with your team. There’s nothing like being in the middle of an improv scene and having something happen that makes everybody laugh so hard that they’re crying! It’s also lots of fun to build friendships with everyone that you’ll be competing with.
S.C.T: What is your most fond memory in theater/improv?
Dara: My most fond memory would have to be my first year on improv team–we won the competition that year! Our team was called Not Of This World (for a space theme), and we had worked so hard to make it. After all our hard work and having fun, we won the whole thing. It was so rewarding and something I’ll never forget. 🙂
S.C.T: What have you learned the most with your experiences in theater/improv?
Dara: I think something I’ve learned very well is confidence. This is something that improv really helped with, for when you’re onstage and creating a story from scratch, you’ve gotta have confidence in your quick decisions and spontaneous actions. If you’re not committed to what you’re doing, it doesn’t look good. If you’re fully in the moment, responding to what the last person said, and exuding confidence, people can see that.
S.C.T: What do you enjoy the most about theater/improv?
Dara: For theater, I love the community. Journey Theater Arts Group has a community like no other. Everyone is so welcoming and nice, it’s almost impossible not to have a friend by the time you leave your first night of class. As for improv, I love the overflowing fun, as well as the bonds you make with your teammates.
S.C.T: What is the hardest skill you’ve had to learn in theater?
Dara: The hardest skill…hmm. I think the hardest skill I’ve learned is being okay with failure. In the theater world, you can forget your lines, miss a cue, or mess up a dance. It’s the worst feeling. But picking yourself up again and trying is better than staying down. This is especially true in improv. When I was cast on my first improv team, I failed constantly. Every scene I was in, I felt like I had messed it up. But when my coach and teammates supported me and made failing fun, I failed better, harder, and more funnily. (Is that a word? I’m not sure. Haha). That skill in real life has helped a bunch, even if it took forever for me to realize that failing was okay. Now, if I get a bad grade or goof up on something, sure I feel bad about it, but it’s very easy for me to get up and try again, and that’s an invaluable skill to have in your tool belt.
S.C.T: What advice would you give someone who is just starting their journey in theater and improv?
Dara: For someone starting out in theater, have fun. With practice, you’ll be a better dancer, singer, and actor. Even if you don’t get lead roles, that means you have a goal to work towards, and when you’re in the chorus, meet new people and develop the relationships you have with them. It’s all a big package of fun!
As for those in improv, break all the rules, and make sure you fail constantly. The more you fail, the more you grow! Go all out, and don’t be afraid to do or say something big and crazy.
Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed this blog post. Be sure to follow to stay tuned for part two of this interview – to be released this September.
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