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      Finding my Community in Theater by Sarah Duterte. Duterte is appearing and directing in the Radio Fest this weekend and will be seen in THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME in November.

      Auditioning for the first Radio Show Festival in 2017 was intimidating. I’d never done any “real” acting. I’d auditioned for things in college, but my sad attempts were overshadowed by my much funnier friend (now husband) Ramon. My repeated failures left me lukewarm to the idea of entering a room full of (what I thought would be) judgmental strangers, but I figured at least with a Radio Show the only thing they could judge would be my voice. Besides, I’d been in therapy for three whole years, surely I could do this without it crushing my sense of self… Surely… and so, in I went.

      As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry at all. I was in a room full of strangers, but they were kind, helpful, and supportive. They were also talented. Two of the directors had also written smart, funny, original plays. One person I auditioned with used to work on the radio and had the best classic radio announcer voice. A bunch of the women auditioning seemed to be able to fill any role with precision. I was cast in a few different things, most notably, for me, the title role in “Kate Kactus, Cowgirl Magician,” a hilarious original series of radio shows by Sarah Knight. I am still in love with that character. My kids were immediate fans. They were disappointed Kate Kactus was not on TV, and still call “Kit Kats,” “Kate Kactuses.” The shows were challenging, not because of time commitment or stress, but because I enjoyed the process of learning characters, practicing voices, and getting feedback from directors. I challenged myself because it was fun. It was the first time I had taken the time to do something on my own for myself, by myself since having my kids, and it was delightful.

      So, delightful, in fact, I had to get the rest of my family involved. It is three years later, and not only are my husband and two oldest kids in the current festival, but I also convinced my sister and her husband to move out here and audition as well. This festival is their second.

      The folks at Hamilton-Gibson welcomed me and my family into the community they’ve built. Fellow actors hold my baby while I run scenes, entertain my three older kids backstage while I’m at the mic, and are living examples of different great ways to be humans in the world. It’s a special thing to be a part of a community, and as my kids learn to spend time with folks of all ages, and grow up in the dimly-lit, cozy, crowded backstage, I’m glad to have found a place among these thespians.

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