Ryan Duda
February 7, 2017

There are moments in an artist’s life, or anyone’s life for that matter, where we question the direction our life is going.  We take into account every decision we’ve made, every opportunity we’ve taken advantage of or turned down, and the many paths ahead of us that we could possibly travel down.  We may ask ourselves, “Am I achieving my fullest possible potential?” hoping that we didn’t take a wrong turn somewhere along the line. 

But, in contrast to those periods of internal questioning, there also exists what I like to call ‘Crystal Moments’. These positive moments may not manifest as often as the negative ones, but when they do, they affirm in every cell of your body that you are on the right path.  They reignite the flame inside you that gives you the courage to follow your dreams, no matter what they may be.  They give you the strength to believe in yourself in the face of doubt and uncertainty.  Most importantly, they show you that your journey to achieve your dreams is contagious.

Here is My Example:

This past week at our first 4th Wall class of the year at Michigan State, a new student, Emma, approached me to introduce herself.  Her mom asked if I was in a production of Grease last spring, and I said I was.  Her mom then explained to me that during a scene where I ran into the audience to sing a song, I had took Emma’s hand and kissed it.  She explained that her daughter’s passion is theatre, but didn’t know where to take classes that would be accommodating to someone with an intellectual disability.  When they looked in the Grease program, they read in my bio that I teach 4th Wall, and proceeded to sign up for the MSU-based class.

This was my crystal moment.  As a third-year theatre major focusing on arts education, I often wonder if what I’m devoting my life to is the right decision.  It’s an unstable, brutal profession, especially in the education sector where fine arts teachers constantly fight against lack of funds and respect.  But every once in a while, I am reminded of the power of theatre.  I’m reminded of how contagious following your dreams can be. 

When I heard this student’s story, it taught me how you can make a difference in someone’s life without knowing it.  Through my passion for theatre, I had inspired a girl to follow her dreams, no matter how tough it seemed.  And through her following her dreams, she gives me the strength to keep following mine.

Now every week, I’ll see Emma, along with our other 4
th wall students, work to achieve their dreams of becoming performers.  At the end of our session at MSU, they’ll put on a showcase sending the message that nothing will stand between them and their dreams.  Who knows who will experience a crystal moment because of this.  It could be a parent watching their child express themselves in ways they haven’t before.  It could be a sibling watching their brother or sister flexing their strength.  It could be one of our volunteers experiencing the power of the showcase for the first time.  It will be the instructors who are blessed to work with such talented, inspirational students every week.

At 4th Wall we believe theatre is for EVERYONE.  Whether its allowing others to escape through a story in a fantasy world, or by providing an outlet for self-expression through artistic education, you never know how theatre will impact someone’s life.  We make it possible for crystal moments to be manifested, so that everyone will be inspired to follow their dreams.  And in them following them, they may go on to inspire someone else as well.  And they may go on to inspire someone else.  And someone else.  And so on…

Follow your dreams.  You’ll ignite someone else’s.