By Katie Warner
Ever since I was a little kid, my imagination has always been my prominent driving force. I remember dancing all around the house in my little princess costumes, singing at the top of my lungs, creating storylines for new games of make believe. When I became involved in theater at the age of four, I had no idea that it would become one of the most meaningful things in my life, and that it would only serve to further unleash that little artist that had been hiding inside of me since birth. I cannot tell you how many times I have performed on stage and had people tell me how shocked they were that shy little Katie Warner could perform like no one was watching. What I have always told people, and what I firmly believe, is that when I am on the stage, it’s not me anymore. Theater, music, art, and literature have shaped my life in so many ways that I can honestly say I would not be the same person without having had the arts in my life. They have shown me new perspectives of the world and the people around me, they have taught me how to be vulnerable, how to be open, how to see beneath the surface of the masks that people wear on a daily basis
Recently, I played the role of Sharpay Evans in High School Musical, and I found myself slowly relating to her character more deeply than I could have ever imagined. In becoming this vicious, conniving, manipulative “popular girl,” I started to see her for what she really was: A friendless, extremely insecure theater nerd who feels like she has no control over her life. Everything she does, the way she acts and speaks and treats others, is a direct outcome of her desperate need to feel loved and to feel in control of her life. She puts up this front, exuding confidence and dominance, because she’s really actually very insecure and doesn’t feel in control, so she tries to compensate. She’s different from everyone else because she likes things that are sometimes viewed as weird, and she falls back on her popularity to make her feel good about herself. Her vicious anger/temper is her guard to her heart; it’s how she protects herself from being hurt. She even tries to control her own twin, because when everything boils down, Ryan is the only friend she has, and she’s terrified of losing him.
I realized in playing this character that I see pieces of Sharpay not only in myself, but in everyone I come into contact with on a daily basis. Playing her role has given me a new perspective on life, and has further opened my eyes to the need to be kind, even to those who might not treat us with the same amount of kindness, because everyone is secretly hurting inside. I have made so many beautiful memories and created so many cherished friendships because of my thorough involvement in art programs throughout my life. The arts have the power to move people in deep and powerful ways. Now, as I prepare to move on into the next phase of my life, that little artist has grown up, but the imagination is still there, and that little muse is guiding me into all sorts of new artistic adventures that I have only just begun to explore.
How have the arts impacted your life? Share your story with us!