Theater is more than just being entertained. For two W. Daniel Mills apprentices, being a part of performing arts has helped them build self-confidence in their lives beyond the stage.
Alison Diaz is a 20-year-old Southeastern University student who lives in Davenport. She explains that she grew up very shy. Even though Diaz comes from a musical family and took dance classes, it wasn’t until she started participating in theater, that she began to feel her self-confidence grow. Part of what helped her overcome her shyness was acting in a local production of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”
“I love princesses,” she says. “Their stories are so comforting because they often show how a young girl learns something about herself and overcomes the odds. In the end things work out, too. There’s always a happy ending.”
While her college doesn’t have a drama program, Diaz is a member of Southeastern’s Soul Food Creative Company, a performing arts group on campus. The group’s mission is to combine ministry and theater to give Christian students a way to share their faith and creativity.
Currently, as part of the apprenticeship program Diaz is following the directing track and will be the apprentice director of “Beauty and the Beast” (April 22-May 22) under Roberta Emerson. She says being a director is teaching her how to be more decisive and a better leader.
“I think having played different characters in plays has helped me step out of my own self-doubt and feel more sure of my choices. Also, having such great support from Garden Theatre Artistic Director Joe Walsh and the whole team at the Garden Theatre has been amazing,” Diaz says.
Madison Poston says she’s been singing since she could open her mouth. Now a junior at Montverde Academy, Poston is excited to be adding more singing, acting, and dancing to her resume. Raised by her dad, who is a percussionist and a part of a family full of singers, dancers and musicians, Poston says she’s always felt like performing was the place she could best express herself.
According to Poston, being an actor has taught her to see things differently. Not too long ago, she played Mal Beineke in the Garden Theatre’s musical production of “The Addams Family.”
“Mal is a male character so I was surprised I could even be considered for the part,” Poston says. “But that’s what I love about theater and the performing arts, it’s for everyone. You can be anything. You can be the opposite sex, or a monster, or a mermaid. It really is so rewarding to look beyond your own physical limits.”
Recently, Poston participated in the Garden Theatre’s production of “Parade,” a musical dramatization of the 1913 trial, imprisonment, and eventual lynching of Leo Frank. She says it is startling to watch a play with such beautiful music about such a terrible moment in history. But that is part of what attracts Poston to the performing arts. “Theater is a mirror,” Poston says. “It reflects back the world around you—both the good and the bad. And hopefully once you see what’s going on you want to get involved.”
Next up for Poston is completing the apprenticeship and applying to colleges. She says she hopes to continue her performing arts education at the University of Central Florida, University of North Carolina School of Arts, or Boston University.
“I feel like art is the greatest way to express yourself,” Poston says. “I can’t imagine what I’d do if I wasn’t doing this. I know whatever it is, it wouldn’t be nearly as important. Making art is my purpose.”