The setting was high school. A time rife with rebellion and objection, a time of discovering mostly what not to do, and a time that wasn’t very long ago for me. I will be bold enough to state that I wasn’t like most stereotypical teenagers. I was avidly involved in my school’s competitive Speech and Drama teams and spent my nights out with friends at the cheap theater or getting ice cream. Simply put, I was a good kid. It wasn’t like me to rebel against authority, especially when that authority was almost like another parent I was with them so often: my Speech/Drama coach. However, that is exactly what ended up happening. And I answer this Daily Prompt today because it has a very large connection to my Frank journey. Metaphorically speaking, the ball was already present and a little wobbly, but this instance was what got it really rolling.
Speech season was rapidly approaching, and I was having a slightly hard time deciding on what I would give a speech on. My category of choice was always Expository. I love(d) giving informative speeches about interesting topics and presenting people with new and fun information about something. What is tricky about Expos is that you either have to pick something that nobody has heard of but is still really cool and present it in an incredible way, or present something that everybody knows about but do it at a different angle.
The running idea that my coach and I had come up with was a speech about the British royal family. I have always been fascinated with England and with the royal family, and since the engagement/wedding of Prince William and Catherine it has been super huge. But since that is all pretty well known to everybody, I of course was going to have to present it from a different angle. I was thinking about doing a list of ten or so really important royals throughout history or something. But as I continued to think about this speech and as I started dabbling into my research, something just wasn’t clicking like I was expecting it to. Something wasn’t right.
Only about a month before I had had my Frank Sinatra sort of “discovery.” I don’t really like calling it that because I’d always heard his name and sort of knew who he was, but that was when it really came to life. Anyway, back on track. Secretly, I wanted to give a speech about him because I was fascinated and in writing an informative speech there is an extreme amount of research involved that I wanted to get into sooo badly. It wasn’t something that I had even admitted to myself, it was a sort of unacknowledged thought in the far corners of my brain. There were a few reasons that it stayed unacknowledged, too. First of all, my coach had already pretty much told me that I was going to do the Royals speech and she expected it. And secondly, in my experience as a competitor speeches about specific people generally didn’t do very well in competition because a) nobody knows who they are or b) the judges have a biased opinion about them and you are sunk. Perhaps these reasons seem a little childish, but they were enough to keep me held back for a while.
What finally ended up bringing a change in circumstances actually has to do with Shakespeare. We were doing the show The Taming of the Shrew and as a seasoned veteran I wanted a lead role. There is a lot of controversy tied up in that statement, I know. I was absolutely willing to play any role I could get, that wasn’t the issue. I simply wanted to be able to broaden my horizons a little and stretch my acting abilities to a place they’d never been. So when I did not get a lead role, I wasn’t necessarily angry, I was just very irritated. The same girls who always get the leads of course got them, and I felt more than a little left out in the cold. So I made a decision: if my coach could do what she wanted for the good of a show, then I could do what I wanted for the good of my speech season. I decided to act on the one very powerful thing that Frank had already taught me. So I marched into her office and said to her, “I’ve made a decision. I’ve not been feeling a great connection with the royals speech, so I’ll be doing one about Frank Sinatra.”
To be perfectly honest, I don’t really remember what happened next. All I know is that I began research for my new speech that very day and it was the best decision I could’ve ever made. My fears were completely unfounded, because Frank and I ended up doing very, very well at every competition (one of my judges even stopped me in the hallway after a round to say how much he’d enjoyed it! SCORE!), but I gained something really indescribable.
Moral of the story: sometimes you just have to do things your way, even if it means standing against the big guns.