As I was going through some of my piano music yesterday, I ran across a copy of the hand-written sheet music for a song called “In Memory” by Erin Farley. This song is more commonly known as the “Theatre School Song,” and was the Alma Mater, of sorts, for the Theatre School for Youth (TSFY) program of which I was a part for about 13 years. TSFY was an after school and summer drama program for pre-teens and teens at the University of Utah.
I started in the after school program. My memory isn’t perfect, but I have a vague recollection that the after school program took place on Wednesdays Once a week during the school year, my mom would drive me from my elementary school in the city of Bountiful to the West Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. After a year (or so) of the after school program, I also started in the summer program, which was a four-week intensive program. Classes were held M-F for each of the four weeks, and the summer culminated with the performance of short scenes (all ages) and musical numbers (teen program only) by the various Scene and Musical Theatre groups.
I don’t remember everything about my time in the TSFY program, but there are definitely many things about the program that I do remember. Each year there was a new T-Shirt that all of the students received and had to wear. I remember each summer one of the first things my mom would do after I got my shirts would be to take me to a fabric / clothing store at Five Points Mall (a mall which no longer exists) where we would pick out iron-on letters in order to apply my name to the back of the shirts. I’m pretty sure that all of those shirts are still somewhere at my mom’s house.
I also remember that every morning during the summer program when we arrived at the school, we had to sign up for where we were going to eat lunch. There were many options, including Subway, B&D Burgers, 7-11, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Chop Suey Louie’s, the lawn (sack lunches), The Pie (until a student tried to light a table on fire), and the distance Student Union. By far my most frequented lunch spot has to have been Chop Suey Louie’s. They had excellent lunch deals, and I would almost always get the Sweet & Sour Pork or General Tso’s Chicken when they were available as the Special of the Day.
The classes, themselves, varied greatly. I took classes in acting, singing, dancing, accents, theatrical makeup, magic, comedy, improv, writing, directing, tech, and more. I attribute my current skills with performance and public speaking, in large part, to the TSFY program. After 13 years, getting up in front of an audience was no big deal for me.
My biggest regret, though, is that my memory of the program is tied so closely with what happened there, and not as closely to the people. Reflecting back, I have forgotten the vast majority of people that I knew in the program. Some I remember mainly because they ended up in high school with me, while others are but shadows in my mind, or lost to my memory forever. As I was playing the song on my piano this morning, I realized just how true the song was. OK, the lyrics are kind of cheesy, but the song is authentic, and I still love it. The TSFY program still exists, and I wonder if they still use this song, or if it, like the people running the program, has changed.