For nearly two decades, Traysie Amick has been a fixture at South Carolina Children’s Theatre. In her role as principal teaching artist, Traysie meets a myriad of challenges each day, but she’s quick to remind anyone who asks that, “what I get to do professionally is a privilege”.
She’s a very important cog in this crazy wheel we call SCCT. From leading SCCT’s Improv Team, Adliberation to touring schools with The Boy Who Cried Bully – SCCT’s bully prevention program – to teaching countless classes and workshops, she rarely takes a break. In fact, from August 25-November 20, she will star in SCCT’s The Teddy Bears’ Picnic – a WeePlay Theatre experience for kids 18 months to 5 years. Surprisingly, she recently found time for a quick interview. See what all she had to share:
Q: What 3 adjectives best describe you?
Determined, emotional, and playful
Q: What was your first encounter with SCCT?
I moved to the area in late spring of 1999. Strangely, I was looking through the want-ads in the newspaper for a job. I saw the one and only ad SCCT has ever put in the paper for teaching artists. When I applied, the Director of Education realized we had been in ETV productions together when we were teens! I was hired to teach for the Fall Semester.
The season finale, an operetta version of Green Eggs and Ham and Gretrude McFuzz was going up in the meantime. I was asked to volunteer as The Cat in the Hat in the lobby before the show. And THAT’S how I landed my longest running SCCT role!
Q: What’s your motto?
Try…and try hard.
Q: Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate. The good stuff bites you back. It makes you pay attention. Chocolate has literally gotten me through moments of fatigue that I feel I could not have overcome otherwise.
Q: What’s the first role you ever played anywhere?
The first time I was on stage I was told I would be a star in the Christmas pageant at school. My kindergarten mind was sure I had landed the part of Mary! I was perturbed to find out that “a star” meant a ring of tinsel on my head, a glittered piece of cardboard slung around my neck and a seat in the window along the wall of the cafetorium.
Q: What’s your favorite role you’ve ever played?
That’s like asking, “Favorite child you have ever birthed!” Zoe (“Boy Who Cried Bully”), Max (Not Even A Mouse), The Cat (“Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat”), Lady (“Balloonacy”) and Crystal from Café & Then Some. I believe that is as narrow as I can get.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
Out of all of the amazing facets my job offers: watching a student who has been working hard finally “get it” and give a moving performance. It never fails to astound me.
Q: What is the most out-of-the-box thing you’ve ever had to do in the name of ‘the show must go on’?
In the early days of touring “The Boy Who Cried Bully” we had to use a portable CD player to run sound for the show. We were performing the last show of the day in the center of a large gymnasium. There was no way to plug the player in. We checked the sound before the students arrived and it seemed fine, but when it came time for Jason Bryant to sing the big number in the show, “Bully! Bully!” the CD player’s batteries were dead!
Anne Tromsness, Jason, and I looked at each other in a panic. Then Anne and I started to clap out the rhythm of the song and Jason began to sing (a little off key). The three of us threw ourselves into the song as hard as we could. Luckily, the next line after the song was, “You’re just a bad singer in a dumb hat!” It was an exhilarating moment that is one of my favorites in our collection of “tales from the tour.”
Q: If you were a bug, what would you be?
A dragonfly. Constantly on the go. Their heads are mostly eyeball which allows them to see things from every angle at one time. They have to catch and eat their food while flying – which is how I have to eat most of my meals too!
Q: Why do you spend so many hours working?
What I get to do professionally is a privilege. I look at those young faces who expect a costume to be constructed, a script to be finalized, a prop to be made, feedback to be offered, a design to be finished, a show to be put together…and I cannot say “later.” The trust that my students and co-workers invest in me is so precious that I do not mind missing out on leisure activities, down-time, and sleep in general. And if I find myself becoming frustrated with a lack of that in my life, I simply remind myself that I do not have to do this. Someone would be grateful to take my place. Then I consider what my life would be like without this constant creative commotion and I know I would no longer be myself.