img_7530If you’ve ever been to the Fox Theatre, (or any theatre, for that matter) you’ve seen first hand how large and powerful the audience can be. If you’ve ever seen any type of show or performance, you know how rare a standing ovation is, and you know how hard the performers have to work to earn one. If you’ve ever been in a performance of any kind, you know how thrilling and special it can be to perform for a crowd, especially a crowd of thousands of people. Now, take all of those familiar and heightened emotions-powerful, thrilling, special, and rare- and you will have scratched the surface of our experience that we had at TedxDetroit.

TedxDetroit is a really wonderful event. It’s a day that is full of celebrating and sharing important work that is happening in the Metro Detroit area, and it’s held in the beautiful and historic Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. So, it was quite a big deal that we were able to perform and our co-founders were invited to speak. We were actually able to watch a few of the performances before we went on and, holy moly, there were some incredible people there. It was a really cool atmosphere– everyone was so supportive and so willing to learn and share with other interesting people. That kind of environment is the best kind for performers and public speakers, and our team absolutely took advantage of the magic of the day.

img_7531The speech itself is something that must absolutely be recognized. At 4th Wall, not only are we fortunate enough to have the two most talented co-founders of all time, but we also have co-founders who have enormous hearts. Their passion for what we do resonated off of them as they shared stories about our history and taught the audience about why we do what we do. When two people love and believe in what we do as much as Miss Katie and Miss Annie do, it is so easy to see how important the work is, which was (one of) the biggest accomplishments of the event– they shared how important and impactful the work that 4th Wall does is, and they did it with grace, power, and the kind of wisdom that truly belongs on a TedxDetroit stage. As always, they beautifully represented this incredible company they created, and I’m sure I speak for the entire 4th Wall family when I say how proud we are to be a part of this team they made.

img_20161006_164139Lots and lots and lots of hard work had gone into the day, and these students endured some of the most difficult things that performers must deal with the day of-we had to “hurry up and wait,” a common theatre term that basically means we had to sit quietly with our adrenaline soaring without interrupting the performers and other audience members. We had to navigate around backstage while being absolutely quiet, and we had some nerves in our group, so that proved to be an interesting lesson to learn. We were, however, able to marvel at the history of the autographs on the wall of the backstage of the Fox Theatre, and, magically, we were able to sign the wall and leave our own stamp.

14470405_10154040534948129_6254465142042674161_nAnd, of course, the performance. I struggled very hard with how to put into words how special the performance was.  I think the most incredible thing about the performance was that the magnitude of what they were doing was not lost on the students. They knew how big of a deal it was, and they flew with that. They were brave, per the rules of 4th Wall, and they were remarkable. These students performed like the seasoned professionals that they are. They were captivating with their proud smiles and determination, and when the audience stood up to applaud for them, you could see the students soaking it in. And the standing ovation was like thunder– a few people, myself included, literally jumped because the reaction was so powerful. And so, so, SO well-deserved. After the performance was over, cloud 9 couldn’t even catch up with everybody. The pride was palpable, and they were greeted in the lobby like movie stars. We got to giggle, hug, congratulate, take some pictures, and then, as it happens in theatre, it came to a happy end.

All in all, it was an incredibly special day. Happy tears were shed, hard work was paid off, and a standing ovation (one of only two in the entire TedxDetroit 8-hour day) was earned. As it is in theatre, one incredible experience ends, and another one soon begins, and that’s a really great way to look at it: 4th Wall keeps having these unforgettable and unbelievable experiences, and when those end, another great one comes around. And while I’m sure that another phenomenal adventure will come around, getting to share how important our work is and getting to showcase how talented our students are is something we won’t soon forget. Thank you for having us, TedxDetroit!

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Click here to watch our TEDxDetroit talk and student performance.