“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.”
– Stella Adler
In September 2017, my brother passed away unexpectedly. It was a devastating blow to my close family especially his beautiful wife and daughter and my parents. To watch the ones you love suffer a loss and pain so deeply is devastating.
Two months later, almost to the day my brother died, I was taken to the emergency room. I had heart palpitations and couldn’t breathe. I was sure I was having a heart attack. The Wake Med emergency room was full to capacity, and I was wheeled into a hallway where they lifted up my shirt and proceeded to hook me up to an EKG machine. Several minutes later the nurse informed me I was not having a heart attack, I was having a panic attack. Since I had never had a panic attack before, I left the hospital convinced that the nurse was wrong and there was something wrong with my heart.
After several more panic attacks and unfortunate return visits to the ER, I went to see a cardiologist, who had me wear a heart monitor for a month. After 30 days, I returned to her office only to find out that the only thing wrong with my heart was the fact that it was broken because I was grieving. She compassionately told me that in a year I would feel better and more like myself again. But how?
A month later, an ad popped up on my Facebook feed for Broadway World. I was intrigued. I had majored in journalism and minored in theater, so this seemed like a natural fit.
About a month later, I got my first “assignment” to cover The Color Purple at the Durham Performing Arts Center. I suppose it’s kind of ironic that this production should be my first show too because just as Celie found her voice in this adaptation of Alice Walker’s beautiful story, I also found mine. I also found a whole new community of artists, directors, producers, and writers who welcomed me into the fold and encouraged me to ‘persist.’
Nearly a year to the day I had gone to the emergency room with my first panic attack, I traveled to New York for my first American Theatre Critics Association conference. Like a sponge, I networked, made some new friends, saw a lot of shows, and learned a lot. While traveling from one workshop to the next, I phoned my husband here in Raleigh to say, “Hey, I’ve gotten reacquainted with myself the last few days, and I have to say, I like the person that I’m seeing.”
In the last year, I’ve reviewed about 50 shows and conducted 57 interviews for Broadway World and Chicago on Stage. The shows I’ve seen and the people I’ve met along the way have breathed new life into me, changed me, and nurtured my soul in ways that a year ago I could have never imagined. You could say that the theater was just what the doctor ordered.
I’ve enjoyed working with Broadway World and will continue to do so, but also have seen a need for a new theater-centric site here in the Triangle. I also wanted to have a social media presence where the live video interviews I’ve done have more visibility than they do on my personal Facebook page or Instagram channel. Hence, I created RDU on Stage. Look for reviews, interviews, features, and a podcast covering anything and everything having to do with the theater scene here in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, along with some fresh voices and new perspectives from new writers like my close friend Kim Jackson.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great websites out there covering music, theater, opera, and ballet in the Triangle, including the Classical Voice of North Carolina, Chatham Life and Style, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment. I’ve also been blessed this year to get to know many of the writers working on these sites, including the incomparable Roy Dicks who is now writing for CVNC and Dustin Britt, the editor of Chatham Life and Style. My hope is just to carve out a small niche for RDU on Stage and try something new in this New Year.
See you at the theater!