The Play That Changed My Life: Lisa Bryk

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Editors Note: “The Play that Changed My Life” series came from an idea Patrick White developed in collaboration with Nippertown, InPlay, and the local theater community to share memories of life altering theater experiences.

Contributed by Lisa Bryk

Note from the Contributor: I work with and take acting classes with Patrick White.  He let us know about the opportunity to submit an essay to you about a play that changed our lives.  Below is my story.

It is bittersweet.  I was in 8th grade.  Before that point, I have no recollection of being involved in theater, other than the grade school class ensembles.  It was a Friday.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was to open that night as our middle school production.  I walked into homeroom and my teacher told me to immediately report to Mrs. Gallagher, my English teacher.  It was a rare occurrence for me to have had to report to any teacher during my years.  I thought, Am I in trouble?  I walked into Mrs. Gallagher’s classroom and she told me that the actress who was to play Snow White, my fellow 8th grade classmate, was sick and wasn’t going to be able to play the part.  She asked if I would step into the role, and she informed me that she had already spoken with all of my teachers and had arranged for me to learn the lines throughout the day.  Up until that point, I had not been involved in the production.  I agreed.  I don’t know why.  All throughout that day during my classes, I read the script and tried to learn the lines.  The production went on as planned, and to this day, I am the only Snow White I know who carried a clipboard with notes.

That was 1982.  I remember moments of that day and night as if it were yesterday.  That play opened my eyes, truly for the very first time, to the world of theater and how exhilarating it is, and what a family it can be.  In high school, I was in a couple of plays, but I didn’t stay with it after that due to a mortifying onstage incident.  It wasn’t until years later that I would get involved with theater again, this time as an assistant director, when my daughter who was young at the time, landed the role of “Laurie” in Brighton Beach Memoirs at the Sand Lake Center of the Arts.  For several years after that, I remained involved as an assistant director or stage manager, with a couple of bit parts thrown in.  I had forgotten how fun, thrilling, and satisfying it all was to be part of a production, and I’ve never forgotten the excitement of being on stage.  Recently, I have begun trading in my behind-the-scene roles for onstage roles.  I am taking acting classes with Acting Class With Patrick White to rebuild my confidence and hone my craft.  An added bonus is that I have gained several new theater family members.  

I will never forget my first role and will always have a piece of it with me with each production I do.  Most heartbreakingly, my classmate who was to play Snow White passed away days later, of pneumonia.  She will never be forgotten, and she will always be my theater family.

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