Hi, my name is Lindsey Stewart, and I am socially awkward.
If I know you well, you might not see that side of me. However, meeting new people, having to make small talk and coming up with interesting things to say so I don’t sound like a major dork is actually very hard for me – it always has been.
Fortunately, I discovered one place I feel completely at home: the stage. In seventh grade, I discovered how easily I could find my voice when I was standing in the spotlight. It seems ironic that I would finally break out of my semi-shy, awkward shell by being the center of attention, but it worked. I could be whatever the playwright’s words asked me to be while creating a character, and I found a piece of myself within each different one.
Acting captivated me. For years, I had wandered my backyard singing songs from Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, and when my parents finally took me to the Fox Theatre to see them, I knew from the overture I was hooked. For six years at DWS, I acted, sang, painted sets, and poured my heart and soul into every production I could.
Then I graduated and it was all over, or so I thought. Much to my surprise I ended up back at DWS in 2007 to teach English, my second passion. I became an assistant director to the spring musical, took over the one-act play my second year, and just last year took over the spring musical. DWS helped me get a second master’s in Theatre Education, and just like that, I returned to the theatrical world where I truly belong.
In order to feed the work I do with the students, I take to the stage myself. In Albany, the only opportunity that works with my teaching schedule is Theatre Albany. I enjoy getting to be an actor myself while working under a fellow director. This allows me to remind myself what it’s like to be the actor and also to appreciate and learn from the methods of a seasoned director. I get to spend time with a different network of friends who share one of my interests, and most importantly, I have fun!
Many people ask me, “How do you manage to do it all? Teach? One-Act? Theatre Albany?” I simply tell them, that is my relaxation. When I’m on the stage myself, I get to take a step back from my world and be someone completely different, even if it’s only for two and a half hours. Some people run, some people read, some people nap. I act. I sing. It’s what brings me peace and rejuvenation.
So why is theatre so important?
It’s the place I exude confidence, the place I don’t think so much about what I’m saying, the place I inject my feelings into the moment. For students, the benefits are seemingly endless. Studies show students involved in theatre score nearly 100 points higher on the SAT, while strengthening speaking skills and confidence levels, physical development and kinesthetic skills, mental development and higher order thinking, personal and intra-personal development, ability to work towards a goal and work collaboratively, and a concept of self-discipline and awareness. With so much going on behind the scenes, there is a place for even the shyest of student, whether it’s moving sets, building props, or helping with makeup.
Theatre is so much more than play time. It’s a place of self-discovery unlike any other. I am proud to say my whole world’s a stage, but I’m willing to share my spotlight with anyone who wants to join me.
Lindsey Stewart, Alum/Teacher/Actor