“What’s it like to be a Shirley?” is the question John Lennon asks me every night and Shirley’s response is that it’s not much fun, but that’s not true for me.
Not only am I in a main stage show at Northern Stage, which is amazing on its own, but “Only Yesterday” is a world premiere show with a cast of four. Almost every night, I get to perform with professional actors in front of an audience, which is a dream come true.
I first heard about “Only Yesterday” last winter while working on “A Christmas Carol” at Northern Stage. Our director, Carol Dunne, invited me to participate in the reading for Northern Stage’s New Works Festival. At that point, I had no clue the show would blossom into what it has become.
I’ve been involved with lots of theater productions at Northern Stage and at Chandler. The reason this show is different is the newness of it. It’s still evolving, thanks to our playwright, Bob Stevens. There’s an excitement in knowing I’m a part of something that few know. It’s like a little secret I hold with the people working on the production and those who have seen the show.
The material is so emotional, real, and raw that almost anyone can connect. Every night while I stand backstage, preparing for bows, I look around and realize just how lucky I am. Without the encouragement of my family, friends and teachers this dream would be just that … a dream.
I feel so fortunate to be able to pursue a life in theatre, backed by the many wonderful opportunities that give me a base to launch from. A recent talk with my theatre mentor helped me reaffirm and define my goals and hopes for the future. To be in this place with people who nurture and help prepare me for my future, is a debt I can never repay.
Olivia Swayze of Tunbridge, a freshman at the Sharon Academy, is playing the part of Shirley in the Northern Stage production of “Only Yesterday.”