Arts In Action | Testimony Series | Sharon Jackson
Don’t procrastinate! I feel like I tell my college students this every day. I want them to succeed, and nothing is more frustrating than receiving haphazard work or panicked emails hours before a deadline. But without procrastinating practicing my alto horn solo at a music conservatory when I was a 13, I would have completely altered my path in life and my walk with Christ.
The summer of the first year of TAM Conservatory my parents were the DYS’ at Star Lake Camp, where TAMC Chapter One happened. My dad was giving Carol Jaudes a tour of the camp while I was at a music conservatory there. I was supposed to be practicing my solo for Soloist Night in a few days, but instead I decided to say a quick hi to my dad. When Carol saw me she asked me why I hadn’t auditioned for TAMC. In my head I was thinking, “This lady is nuts! I’m not good enough for this conservatory! I was Townsperson 1 in my sixth grade production of Cinderella. I’ve peaked!” I of course didn’t say that. I just shrugged. Carol was having none of that. As if out of thin air, she pulled a page long monologue out and told me she would be back after the tour for my TAMC audition. And there went my entire solo practice time. I worked fervently to figure out how to perform this monologue. I practiced and practiced. Time was ticking away. After a couple minutes Carol came back. Now was the time. To this day, I couldn’t even tell you what the monologue was about. All I remember was fumbling through the words and some really awkward silences when I forgot where I was on the page. After I made it through Carol smiled and said, “We’ll see you in August.”
That August I spent a week delving deeply into acting techniques, performances, and discussions. It was terrifying. I think I spent every improv elective frozen in absolute fear that Chris Stoker or Ian Evans would call on me to participate. But what got me through the fear of that week was the fact that everything ultimately came back to the fact that no matter your preferred medium, we are doing this as an act of worship. And as an act of worship, shouldn’t we be pursuing excellence?
The people I met and the skills I built in my first TAMC (and the other 10+ I’ve attended since) have led me down a life path that I wouldn’t change for the world. I pursued a degree in theatre where I continued to build on my love of musical theatre but also discovered how much I adore the logistical and administrative side of stage management and producing. I did CAST for six summers of my life, three as a CAST member and three as the CAST Assistant. I’ve taught acting, singing, dance, and yes, even improv. Beyond the individual experiences, I was able to hone my ability to think critically, express and advocate for myself and other, communicate and inspire, and enjoy the journey and not just the results. These are the tenets that inspire me as I work with my college students every day. I encourage them to pursue excellence in everything they do, to have grace with others and themselves, and to take a step back and assess.
As a follower of Christ, participation in arts ministries has completely changed my relationship to Christ and understanding of worship. It is why I was able to continue my walk through high school, college, and beyond. Singing, acting, dancing, and even calling a show from the booth in the back of the house has become an act of worship. So though I always tell my students they shouldn’t procrastinate, I wouldn’t have changed the afternoon that became a catalyst for my life or walk with Christ for the world. So I guess, sometimes it’s ok to procrastinate! Just don’t tell my students that!