Of Duct Tape and Spaniels: How to Express Four Years of Magic in a Single Letter?


I am trying to write a letter.

Ironically it’s the hardest thing in the world for me to do — me, a writer. But this is no ordinary letter — it’s a letter to someone who may go down in history as the single most important influence in my life.

Ms. Loudon was my drama teacher in high school. I went to HP Baldwin High in the hopes of joining the drama club, and join I did. I soon learned that I knew nothing about work ethic, as I was always the first one sneaking out of the room to avoid doing anything strenuous. After Ms. Loudon was done with me, I was the first to jump in and work, yelling at the Freshman for being lazy.

I was really depressed in high school, and I think — had I not had a purpose in drama — I could have really hurt myself. But that room was my home, and Ms. Loudon was the Queen of it. She was my Queen. (I remember at some point I ran into the room, fell to my knees in front of her, and said “Ms Loudon! I am your spaniel!” because you can never go wrong with a quote from Midsummer’s. At another point in time, she was addressing everyone in the auditorium and I had something to tell her. I walked up to her and dropped to one knee, arm crossed over my chest, and said “My liege.” I could always make her laugh.)

Ms. Loudon not only taught me a strong work ethic, but she also taught me how to act, how to make an inch of paint in the bucket paint the whole front of the stage, how to use duct tape to fix anything, how to hide the mess in the room in order to get ready for a show, how to quick change in the dark, how to do make-up quickly before the sun set, how to not break character when the sets are crashing down around your ears, and — most importantly — how to treat your fellow actors.

There were no divas in our drama room because Ms. Loudon wouldn’t stand for it. Everyone was equal, and bad behaviour was tolerated no more or less from a lead role than it would have been from a chorus member.

That strict etiquette is, I’m sad to say, lacking in the other places I’ve been.

I excelled at theatre not only because I had raw natural talent for it (I do, let’s not be coy), but because I was willing to learn what Ms. Loudon had to offer me. I would not be where I am today were it not for her influence and presence in my life.

This blog post doesn’t even come close to expressing all my feelings about Ms. Loudon. So you see my trouble when it comes to trying to write this to her in a letter.

She is turning 70 at the end of July and the letter is supposed to be part of a huge birthday bash for her. It’s a surprise, so you won’t see this blog post until after the fact — just in case.

So, where do I even begin?

Dear Ms. Loudon….