My definition of my first theater experience is the first time I ever stepped on a stage and performed in front of an audience.
It happened in my last year of elementary school. I have just transferred from a Chinese local school to the first international community I’ve ever known, The British School of Beijing, Shunyi. As a born introvert who has never spoken English in conversations or classes, I was extremely self-conscious and nervous. In my memory, Chinese local schools barely had any drama clubs or theatrical plays. The only shows at school assemblies were collective dances and singing.
When my homeroom teacher announced that we were to perform a song in the weekly assembly, my first reaction was fear. I have never stepped on a stage and never wanted to be the center of attention in any social event. And my imperfect English only made the situation worse. I was given one line, something about this nonprofit organization called Girl Rising. I quite literally had “one job.” I remember standing under the spotlight during rehearsal, everyone is staring at me, I’m staring at the script… the word…
I have NO IDEA how to pronounce the word, is it rEsing? rAIsing? rEEsing???
In a panic, the words “Girl Racing” slipped through my mouth. To this day, I can still hear the sound of my classmates’ muffled giggles and that one annoying kid mocking me for my mistake whenever I think back on it.
“rīziNG.” The teacher hushed my classmates’ inappropriate reaction to my pronunciation and kindly corrected me.
After this incident, we rehearsed the song multiple times before the assembly, but it wasn’t after a few trials before I finally learned the correct pronunciation. The assembly eventually ended successfully, but I will never be able to forget the embarrassing experience during the rehearsal.