“How?” you may ask. The answer is simple — theatre.
Theatre transforms people into anything, from a Vietnamese woman abandoned by her American lover to a tribe of cats called the Jellicles. For me, I was metaphorically transformed into the Wicked Witch of the West. I would have never compared myself to this cackling sorceress, famous for her wickedness, emerald-green skin, and power over the western region of Oz. However, as I sit here writing this essay, I reflect on Elphaba’s journey to defying gravity and compare it to my own.
Although I wasn’t born with the green appearance of a “froggy, ferny cabbage,” my parents knew that I was unique. It wasn’t until I stepped onto the creaky floorboards of the stage and into the warmth of the spotlight that I discovered this uniqueness — my “green skin.” Ironically, it does not refer to layers of lime-green keratin proteins but rather to my layers of independence, confidence, and individuality — all which derive from my experience at Trinity High School, beginning with a single musical audition and exposure to what would be my passion, escape from reality, and home for the rest of my life.
Entering into the world of Trinity theatre, I wasn’t initially aware of the people who would immensely impact my life, the discovery of a passion for fine arts, or the values of a united community that would shape me into a confident, gravity defying woman. Like the adventure, Elphaba shared with her best friend Glinda, the people I share irreplaceable memories with are very important to me. Everyone, from my director to my passionate castmates, has played a significant role in the musical of my life. However, my “Glinda” is my mom. An immigrant from the Philippine archipelago, and now a successful pharmacist, she has taught me that “everyone deserves the chance to fly.” She has been my number one fan throughout all my life. Without the support of my mom and the Trinity community, I would not be the ambitious, responsible, and confidently friendly person I am today. Additionally, without the hard work of my parents, I would not be attending a private, single-gender, Catholic high school, and I would not have discovered the beauty of theatre.
The thrilling atmosphere, congregation of melodious voices, intricate costumes, and hours of dancing are just some of the aspects that contribute to my daily paradise, but what makes theatre more than just an activity is the community that it creates. We are artists who strive toward a common goal: making words on a page come to life. We are the vulnerable yet confident ones, sharing our souls and our gifts for all to see. We are the fearless, standing up to the face of adversity. We are the gentle, savoring every moment, laugh, smile, and cry shared. Most importantly, we are a family, encouraging everyone and anyone to share their talents with the world.
This family, comprised of gifted playwrights, fearless actresses, devoted crew members, talented singers, graceful dancers, and outspoken leaders, has transformed me into a powerful force for good, teaching me to defy gravity in my own ways and to claim the world as my stage — as my “Emerald City.” In fact, it is because of the inspirational, selfless women of Trinity High School that I plan to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Molecular and Cellular Biology major and Spanish minor on the pre-medical track with the dream of becoming a pediatrician. It is because of the unconditional support, generosity, and love I’ve received from the compassionate faculty and students of Trinity High School that I can confidently impact society as a tenacious female leader, empowering others to defy gravity.
With this, I end with a quote from the Wicked Witch herself:
“So if you care to find me, look to the (Mid)western sky! As someone told me lately, everyone deserves the chance to fly! And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free. […] And nobody in all of Oz, no wizard that there is or was is ever gonna bring me down!”
Caitlin Daza, Elm Middle School, Elmwood Park
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign