Backstage Pass: A Senior's Swan Song

When I first started at Incarnate Word, I had come from a middle school in the Woodlands, so I was alone, and scared to make new friends. It was hard for me, especially because I didn’t have the best social skills.

One day in my freshman year, I heard about auditions for the school play, "Julius Caesar," and I thought to myself, “Why not?” I have always loved theater, but I never had the chance to get into it myself. I found the courage to audition and was cast as two roles, Flavius and Lucillius. Both happened to be very angry and passionate characters, which was hard for me since I was just a shy little freshman. As Flavius, I got to say the first line in the whole show, but I also had to say it very angrily, which took me a while to get used to. “Hence! I’M SORRY.”

Throughout the show I learned things about myself that I never knew. I knew I had a deep passion for theater and learned how to express my emotions and to bring different characters to life. When "Julius Caesar" ended, I knew I didn’t want to stop there.

I decided to audition for the school musical, "Sound of Music," where I played Friedrich Von Trapp. I was nervous to have to learn lines and music, but I didn’t do it alone. Not only was I with the rest of my Von Trapp family, but also with the rest of my Falcon Theatre family who were some of my biggest supporters.

I played an array of characters during my time in Falcon Theare, from Pinocchio to Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing," to my dream role, the Witch in "Into the Woods."

Photo of Claire in costume as The Witch in Into the Woods

Claire, center, as The Witch in IWA's production of "Into the Woods."

Each one taught me a unique characteristic about myself. I’ve learned of my inner strength, my inner child, and my passion to not only just learn more about myself, but also my passion for helping those I care about. The people within Falcon Theatre have created such a safe space over the years where everyone knows that they can be themselves, and to love themselves for who they are. As a group, we have created such a passion and love for theater, and we all know we never want that to end, even long after we all graduate.

Then, I hit one of the biggest roadblocks of my life: I was diagnosed with bone cancer, osteosarcoma. The 17-inch tumor had almost split my humerus, and I couldn’t move my shoulder, but I wouldn’t let that stop me. When I got the diagnosis, we were a week away from opening "Into the Woods." I refused to let anything happen until after the show, because I knew I couldn’t do that to my Falcon Theatre family. So going through it, I wore a sling. Talk about "the show must go on!"

When "Into the Woods" ended, I left school to fight the battle of my life. I knew I had things to fight for: my family my newborn nephew, Grayson; and Falcon Theatre. The people in Falcon Theatre had shown me so much love, I knew I couldn’t let them down. Even when I couldn’t be in the musical "Hairspray," I came to see it to support my second family.

When I finally beat cancer and came back to school, I knew I wanted to join my second family again. I was in "Inherit the Wind," "Puffs" and "Jane Eyre," and now I'm onstage in my last show, "Hamlet." Falcon Theatre gave me friends I know will last a lifetime.

I also know that I wouldn’t be the girl I am today if I hadn’t joined Falcon Theatre. Being in theater has shown me the truth inside of me, and the truth inside the characters that I have played. I hope that you will also see the truth behind my character, Hortensia, and all of the strength behind this incredible cast.

When you come to see "Hamlet," you'll see what I mean about the passion and strength behind everyone in Falcon Thetare.