Essay of the Week: “The Show Goes On”

By Blaine McIndoe

Sirens blared into the room just as Gossip started separating the twins. The noise startled the audience, and I rushed to close the windows. My actors were prepared to handle the unexpected, such as covering each others’ mistakes, ad libbing if necessary. However, New York City had thrown an abrupt and unexpected curveball, just as the audience was about to witness Gossip’s manipulative nature. As I shut the first window, the play continued and the voices of my actors were heard. The play, like my passion for directing, was stubborn and could not be stopped. Besides, the show must go on–and that motto could stand as the title of my life story.

When I was little I thought God had made a mistake. Plan A was for me to be born and raised in America. Instead I was born in China, adopted and then raised in America. Americans come in all shapes and colors, but being Chinese while the rest of the family was white, I couldn’t help but feel like the least American of the family. However, my life was like any good show; it had to go on. In moving through life, adoption has remained a big part of my past, but not as big of a part of my identity as storyteller. Some people comment that I’m “so brave,” and that I “should write a book about my experience.” First problem: I was eight months old when I was adopted, and what eight-month-old is vigorously note taking as if they’re a journalist during the election of 2016?

While I don’t recall pivotal moments of my adoption, I have become a storyteller of narratives. My lens goes beyond my identity. It is formed by the girl who grew to express her voice through acting, film and stage directing, even though she had a tough time with language in a new country. Most kids start talking at around two-and-a-half or three. But at age four, the only word I really used was “hello,” and it wouldn’t even sound right, because I would pronounce it “hey-yo.” My mom was shocked because my first word was fairly sophisticated compared to other kids my age; it was cute until my mom realized that I would be stuck with “hey-yo” for the next two years.

I don’t remember the first speech therapist, but I do recall years in front of a computer, being told to press the space button every time I saw a soccer ball. Once a week for the next six years, a speech therapist would come to the house with workbooks. Musical theatre became a companion to therapy when I was six at my first musical theater summer camp. Drama helped me break out of my timid temperament, and continues to do so even today.

At ten, I was done with speech therapy, but I could not live without the stage. From acting, I grew into a director. I would have never started directing plays or making my own films if it weren’t for my love of acting. Gossip was the first play I ever directed. As director, I solved problems with the force of the strong characters I had played on stage. After a year of planning, my performance space was taken away, and my lead actor quit five minutes before the first rehearsal. I adapted to those hurdles and many others.

Expressing my voice as an actor and director feels natural to me. My mom probably never expected her speech-restricted child to grow into someone who loves public speaking; yet I now know I was born with a purpose. The emergence of my voice demonstrates that I was not a mistake. When I was younger,  I was merely saving my words for later, preserving them to insure that the many shows in my life would go on.

Blaine McIndoe, a graduate of the Professional Performing Arts School, is a freshman at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.