My CYT Story: Let’s Do This Thing

The following story was submitted by Riley H. from CYT Nashville for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


Did I find out about CYT from a friend? No. Did I happen to go see one of their plays and decide I wanted to be a part of CYT? No. I Googled it like any normal person………duh.

But seriously, I did Google Christian theatre groups in my area. When living in a bustling arts town like Nashville, Tennessee, I had an abundance of options to choose from. As a kid I LOVED singing and acting in dozens of school plays, but in middle school that activity became stagnant due to my family’s moving. Now, as I’m finishing 10th grade and exploring my options for extracurricular activities, theatre came to mind. After finding my local CYT’s website, my mom emailed the directors and asked if I could visit a class. They responded enthusiastically and also informed me of their upcoming auditions for Beauty and the Beast. (Belle is probably my favourite Disney princess……so you could imagine my excitement.) When I visited the class people immediately came to me and introduced themselves. Long-story-short, I heard a lot of names; some I had trouble pronouncing, not to mention remembering. That night I left with a smile on my face as I swaggerly told my mother “Let’s do this thing.” Now I’m a few weeks into my session of classes and the auditions for Beauty and the Beast are over. What part did I get, you may ask? Well, I’m the old beggar woman/Enchantress, a townsperson, and an enchanted object. Yay!


Let’s talk character building: never have I ever been so unafraid to act stupid and crazy. CYT is the only place people will clap or say ‘encore’ when you act weird. Just the other day for example, in class I did an improvised scene where I played a bratty teenage boy who lives in England and is roasting his marshmallow by the fire. His foot catches on fire though. I yelled in my, if I may say so myself, AMAZING British accent. Who knew acting like an idiot could be so much fun?

Thank you CYT for making my dreams come true. To be clear that dream was to still be able to ‘play pretend’ as a teen. 😉

Everyone I talk to is uplifting, positive, and Christ-like. I’m am very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of such a unique theatre group like CYT.


*NOTE: DEADLINE for the 2017 My CYT Story Competition has passed. All submissions received after this point will be held for the 2018 My CYT Story Competition. 

DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: Made in God’s Image

The following story was submitted by Jason J. from CYT Sacramento for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


I first heard about CYT from my Grandmother, who loves theater. I was 13 years old at the time, and really struggling with the adjustment to the teenage lifestyle. I was surrounded by kids who were experimenting with marijuana and alcohol and encouraging me to do the same. Peer pressure is a killer and if there was ever a time that I needed a positive outlet, it was then. When I arrived at my first audition for the musical Oliver, I quickly determined that I was out of my comfort zone. All of the kids were auditioning with musical theater songs that I had never heard of, and here I was prepared to sing a pop song! As I walked on stage I felt that I was bound to embarrass myself. But as I began to sing, I heard cheers and saw so many smiling and supportive faces in the audience. That is when I knew that this uncomfortable zone may just be my new home. I was cast as an orphan in Oliver and it became one of the best experiences of my life. By the end of the show, I had already made life-long friendships and was excited to audition for the next show. I continued to participate in shows and as each one ended, I could not wait for the next to begin. These kids meant everything to me, we had laughed together, cried together, prayed together, we truly were family. They didn’t care what color my skin was. Initially, I viewed being the only black kid as the thing that made me unique, but as I continued to do shows, I began to view it as an obstacle. I felt as though directors excluded me from parts because of my skin color. This frustrated me because I felt the other kids could not relate to what I was feeling. All of my friends at CYT noticed how frustrated & hurt I was. But they all reached out to me and said that I should embrace being black. Being black isn’t a setback. Being black is what made me different & what set me apart from the rest. They helped me realize that all actors go through this, whether it be their ethnicity, religion, etc. They opened my eyes & helped me see that God made me in His image, & His image is perfect. I am eternally grateful to my brothers & sisters of CYT for sticking by my side & always loving me for me.


*NOTE: DEADLINE for the 2017 My CYT Story Competition has passed. All submissions received after this point will be held for the 2018 My CYT Story Competition. 

DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: Growing Confidence

The following story was submitted by Joseph R. from CYT Austin for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


When I first started CYT I had no experience singing or dancing, and not a whole lot of acting, but I knew I wanted to act. My first audition I got really scared, to help me everybody turned around! But by the end of my first show, I had made so many friends!
Now, one year later, I’m always looking forward to CYT and growing my acting skills! In fact, I came from chorus all the way to a lead role (Lefou in Beauty and the Beast) and I’m really excited to do more with the wonderful Mrs. Novak, Mrs. Leah, Mrs. Lauris, and everyone else who helped me grow to be the young actor I am!


*NOTE: DEADLINE for the 2017 My CYT Story Competition has passed. All submissions received after this point will be held for the 2018 My CYT Story Competition. 

DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: There’s No Place Like Home

The following story was submitted by Emma G. from CYT Lafayette for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


I had this dream once. I was standing alone on a stage and had to entertain a crowded auditorium by telling them a story. The dream seemed simple enough, but it got me thinking. If I had a microphone and a chance to say whatever I wanted – what story would I tell?

Well, my choice would be simple. I would begin to share a story I had become all too familiar with and could recite at any moment – the one that I called my own. I’d begin by explaining how I’ve moved twelve times in my life. With each new house came a new set of memories, new feelings, a whole new world to be explored; but there was one thing I always valued the most. It was something that came with me through every move and every new direction in my life – my family.

Since change was a common theme within my household, I always clung to the one thing that would never leave. In doing so, I developed a personality trait that is most commonly referred to as “clinginess.” I avoided any and all places that did not involve or welcome my mother, I couldn’t survive a sleepover until the age of fourteen, and needless to say, I was definitely not begging to get involved in any sort of after-school activities. During this time, I also found myself without any friends to call my own. Being in a place like this was unexpected and unwanted, and I felt as though I had no way to change it.

This is the saddest part of my story. Though it was summarized in just a few sentences, it lingered on for what seemed like an eternity. Then things began to look up.

The year is now 2015, I’ve met friends at a church youth group and am happier than I’ve ever been. At this point in my story, I would begin to share the next chapter, starting with my 13th birthday party. It was here that a friend asked if she could bring her cousin from out of state along. This girl, who I never expected to see again after that night, ended up being a huge turning point in my life.

A few weeks prior, I had gotten involved in an after-school theater program called CYT. My friend’s cousin, who ended up moving across the country to a house right down the street from mine, heard about the program I was in and wanted to get involved as well.

Over the months we were in classes together, we formed a bond like I’d never experienced before. She was the one who pushed me to do my first show, Footloose. Something I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit is that I almost turned down doing the show because I was afraid. It was odd feeling this way again. This form of nervousness was something I hadn’t felt since the days before CYT; it had become unfamiliar. Although I was an entirely new person compared to when I was little, pieces of the old still remained. Though I was afraid to do the show, I was also determined to never fall back into the pit I had been in – so I went through with it.

It was the greatest experience of my life. I formed relationships with people I had assumed were unaware of my existence, made memories I would treasure forever, and found a place that I could truly call my second home. So this story I was sharing began to look up. After a few “aww’s” from the fictitious audience and some teary-eyed nods of recognition, I would then continue to the next part, where all the loose ends were finally tied together.

It was my second show week; a spring show, which, unbenounced to me at the time, is notorious for its emotional goodbyes. It was on the final day of shows when all the graduating seniors stood at the center of a giant circle formed by the cast members. Tears rolled down our cheeks as “You’ll Be In My Heart” played over the speakers. I was holding hands with those around me and crying over people I had never even met.

And that’s when it all clicked. I realized that the tears streaming down my cheeks weren’t because of the people or the sad music. It wasn’t because the show was ending or because I wouldn’t see my friends until the fall. No, I was crying because I was home. All of the searching, all of the times when I turned down big opportunities, all of the times I feared that maybe I would never find anyone, had all led up to this.

It was in that moment I realized that all the years I clung to my family were only leading me to the place where I would truly find them. And here they were. They didn’t look like how I pictured them. I wasn’t related to them. They didn’t look like my mom and dad, but instead more like me, all decked out in heavy stage makeup and unitards. They weren’t found within the walls of my house, but in a place that would soon become just as familiar.

CYT was something I never saw coming. But now that I look back on the days before it, I see how every second of my life had led me to this place where I was meant to be. My life had turned out to be one big story, full of plot twists, intricately connecting details, characters that were always there but had to await their cue to enter. It was a story that I’d imagined happened to other people but would always stay a work of fiction to me.
It’s a story that unfolded right before me and is one that continues to be written to this day. It contains some chapters I wish were never there, but I know that without them, it wouldn’t be the same. It’s one that I had tried to write in the past but was never able to quite figure out. It’s one that could only be written by the ultimate Author,
who knows the beginning, middle, and end before He even picks up a pen.

This story has become one that I’m proud of, one that still astonishes me every time I read it, and one that I will always treasure.

It was during my fourth show week that I was given a microphone and an empty stage, and had the task of sharing a story with every audience member that walked through the doors. It was something that came easily to me, for this elaborate story had already been written. It was mine, and now I just had to tell it.

 


*NOTE: DEADLINE for the 2017 My CYT Story Competition has passed. All submissions received after this point will be held for the 2018 My CYT Story Competition. 

DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: The Power of Mercy

The following story was submitted by Iman K. from CYT Sacramento for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


My name is Iman K., and I joined CYT Sacramento during classes for Thoroughly Modern Millie, winter of 2015. I actually didn’t enjoy that experience at all because I had a hard time fitting in, especially at the stage of life I was going through. I quit midway through the session and told my mom that I was never going back because I obviously didn’t belong anywhere. A few months passed, and when I found out that the spring show was Tarzan (my favorite Disney movie), I couldn’t bring myself to pass it up. So, I trained for a few months before going back and auditioning, during which I felt more than a little awkward. To my amazement, I was called back, and ended up being cast as the Leopard, something that I was incredibly excited about. Between the casting and the read through, though, there was a really rough day.

A little bit of background, up until that point I’d struggled with a lot of things in my life that had just seemed to be completely crumbling, the death of a family member, the loss of a friend, a shaky relationship with my father, and some serious self hate. I had been cutting and carving and bruising myself for over a year and was majorly struggling with an eating disorder, my diet consisting of about 3 almonds a day. I was seeing more doctors than I would’ve liked to be, and had been on medication for an embarrassing length of time. I hated myself and my body, and everything I thought was just self deprecating. I had grown up in a Christian home with Christian parents but was at a place where I was more angry and doubtful about God than anything. So many things in my life just seemed to be unravelling, and I was seriously considering ending my life to permanently remove the pain I’d been suffering for years..

So back to this rough day, I was at school on a Thursday, and my mind just started wandering. I remember sitting in the bathroom with a stolen blade and performing the usual “ritual”. When I walked out of the bathroom, something hit me: CYT’s code of conduct about self respect and treating your body as a temple. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that I would be kicked out of the show and the one place where I could do what I loved would be closed off to me, so I texted my mom and asked her to call Wendy Hoover, the director for that show. She texted back to say that Mrs. Hoover wasn’t picking up, and I had this period of dread as I waited and waited for an answer. I got another text from my mom telling me to pray through it, and my immediate reaction was an eye roll. But for some reason, this time, I listened to her. I bowed my head and closed my eyes and whisper yelled at God in the middle of my English classroom, asking him to take away this feeling.

I can’t really explain what happened next, and I guess there’s no way to unless you’ve experienced it yourself, but I felt literal weight being lifted off me. My entire body felt lighter, and that anxiety came to an abrupt stop. I was able to get through the rest of the day, and when the final bell rang and I left for my car, I silently accepted the fact that I had blown my chance and would do better next time.

I climbed into the car and immediately asked if Mrs. Hoover had replied, which she had. My mom smiled as she told me that Mrs. Hoover was not only going to let me continue the show, but hoped that CYT would be a place where I could fit in and find a second family. I cried the whole way home with relief, but mostly because no one in all my years had showed me mercy in that way. I seriously rethought my generalizations about people and that everyone would give me grief because I was “such a bad Christian”.

Fast forward a couple weeks, I was actively participating in rehearsals and had made more great friends in that time than I probably had in a full couple years. I was able to slowly peel myself from my corner of seclusion and enter into a world that I didn’t know existed. I met people who loved me for the right reasons, and through that was able to better understand the Lord’s everlasting love for me. I’m 16 now, and since then I haven’t hurt myself once or gone a day without eating. I’ve also been slowly weaning off of my medication and have overall been a more joyful person. My spiritual gift actually completely shifted to mercy, and I sought out to pull other people from the dark hole that I had been buried in for over half my life by doing the little things that I would’ve needed in that time. My life has been so worth living, and even though I still have my mountains and valleys, I have a companion by my side the whole way. The honor and the glory go to Jesus Christ, the one who saved me from the clutches of death.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9


 

 

Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here! 

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: Another Family

The following story was submitted by Ally H. from CYT Baton Rouge for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


Summer of 2015, my best friend and I went to a musical theatre intensive in Missoula, Montana. We created a close family that I loved and hated to leave. And I thought I could never have another family like it. CYT proved me wrong. Auditions for CYT’s Mary Poppins started a week and a half after I got back home. And I went without hesitation, along with my best friend. I ended up falling in love with the show, my role, and everyone around me. I found I would rather be here than anywhere else. Even though it is sad knowing that I will cease to perform with my CYT family after I graduate this spring, the relationships I have built that have made me the actress and the person I am today will always be a part of me.


Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here! 

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

My CYT Story: Who I’m Meant to Be

The following story was submitted by Amanda T. from CYT Dallas for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.


“Wow!”… That may be the proper word to start off my story for you.

Hello, I’m Amanda! I’m a homeschooled Sophomore, and a student at the new CYT Dallas-Fort Worth. First, let me just say, things are going very well over here!

I figured my CYTeammates (Is that a thing? …No?) from other parts of the country deserved an update and a testimony coming from a student at one of CYT’s newest locations. So, here it is:

Not even a year ago, I was still rather shy, awkward, and unconfident. I was into acting, but after being rejected several times and going through the whole favoritism thing, I felt a lack of self worth. I decided, though theatre was what I truly wanted to do deep down, that it ‘just wasn’t for me’.

I decided that I would give it up for a while… If the right time ever came, I ‘might’ give it another chance… So, I took some writing courses, and gave photography a shot. (Get it? A ‘shot’?! ‘Cause-… Never mind.) Through that, God has shown me beauty and peace, and helped me discover some hidden talents of mine… (And, I’m not throwing away my shot to use those talents to write this blog, all puns included.)

So, I said, “Great! I guess I’ve found my hobbies… I guess acting isn’t for me, but that’s okay… I’ll learn to leave it to “the pros” like Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale, and enjoy it from the audience’s point of view.” … but what I didn’t know was that God wasn’t done with me yet.

Last June, my mom signed my sister and me up for CYT DFW’s first-ever summer camp (well, their first-ever ANYTHING, for that matter)… I was scared at first. Scared of being rejected again, feeling out of place and unwanted, or altogether failing. But I just felt God calling me to go. So I went.

I went in there at the beginning of the week, nervous; staring at the floor, wondering how I was gonna pull it off… If you saw me, you’d think that was a completely different person. Because I came out of there at the end of the week, after the showcase, more wid and open than I’ve probably ever been before.

CYT Dallas’ first show EVER! “Into the Woods Jr.”

I actually pity my parents for having to deal with me that night, because I was crazy. I was on a sugar high, I was singing showtunes from Into the Woods (which ended up being our first-ever show, so how cool is that?) and Newsies (my favorite musical and current obsession.) at the top of my lungs. And ever since then, that old unconfident version of myself has been buried deep down… I owe that to the incredible people at CYT.

As cliché as it may sound: Through CYT, I discovered who I was meant to be; my true self. I came out of my shell, and I found new friends who accept me for the dork I am.

So, I’ve still got room to improve my skills, I still get jitters every now and then, and I’m still VERY awkward…. But it doesn’t matter, because at CYT, we’re all one big awkward family, and we’re always there to help each other grow, and cheer each other on.

I may not get every role I want. I may mess up sometimes. I may not have an onstage presence as powerful as Lea Salonga’s or Sutton Foster’s… But who cares? In the end, I am not flawed in the eyes of God (Oh, hey! That rhymed!). As long as I use the gifts he has given to me in order to glorify Him, it’s all that matters. He will take care of the rest… In the end, if I look like a fool up there, at least I’m looking like a fool who loves Jesus, am I right?

I encourage you -nay, I challenge you- to use the skills God has blessed you with -whatever your passions are; singing, acting, dancing, writing, computer science, photography, art, music, ventriloquy, miming, skydive coaching, etc.- to their fullest, and for His glory. And then, just watch what happens! You’ll be surprised what God -the great director in the theatre of life- will do with none other than YOU, His star, if you only let Him.

Thanks for your support, CYT brothers and sisters (whether you’re student, staff, or audience member, and whether or not you like it, you ARE a part of our big, awkward family…) ! CYT Dallas is going strong, and getting ready for our second musical, Legally Blonde Jr.!!!! All my love,

-Amanda, your crazy sister over at CYT Dallas-Fort Worth


Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here! 

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner.