Rachel Cepeda is a student of The Torch Theatre‘s training center in Phoenix where she also performs with Zombie Gourmet. She’s headed to New York to partake in the Magnet Theater‘s improv intensive. Roll with Rachel as she tackles the Big Apple and shares her travels with The Torch Theatre’s 4721 Blog!
An Introduction by Rachel Cepeda
Growing up in Avondale was the worst and best thing that could have happened to me. My family and I moved from a military base in Okinawa, Japan, with its beaches, bamboo, and high tech toilets to live the “American Dream” out in Avondale, which is possibly the blandest part of the valley. And that was fifteen years ago, so imagine the pain I went through waiting for the day my parents would say that we were stationed in Germany or New Zealand next. It never happened. And that’s how I developed my pattern of waiting for everything to suddenly change for the better without doing anything at all.
On top of being in a place with nothing but master planned communities filled with the same cookie cutter homes with no room for any life to happen, I was extremely shy. To the point where I absolutely did not talk to anyone. I even got awards in elementary school for being quiet. I was known as the quiet girl and that’s not how you make many friends.
I always waited for someone else to talk to me and hoped that they would take the time to be my friend. It happened a few times. Whenever I tried to talk to people first they all thought I was weird. People still tell me that all the time, but at least I’m more fun than they are.
My parents are Puerto Rican and Dominican, so I grew up hearing about their lives in New York and wishing that I could experience it too. I hated the fact that I was the only person in my entire family who’s not a New Yorker. I felt like I was missing out on life. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that life in New York isn’t all that I thought it would be, especially for Dominicans. My dad’s from Harlem and my mom’s from Tribeca, so I got to know about the best and worst parts of living there, and everything in-between. I know it’s not all “Sex and the City” for most people, but In the Heights and West Side Story don’t seem too bad. And everything’s better when you can break out in Tony award winning musical scores. But when it comes down to it, anything is better than living in a wasteland of a subdivision.
So I went through twelve years of hating my neighborhood, dreaming about New York, and waiting for something to happen to me that would change my life. And of course, it happened to be improv.
I discovered The Torch Theatre after always seeing it on my route to school every morning after I moved to Central Phoenix. Finally, I decided to look it up online and saw that it was an improv theatre. I spent a good three days researching what it’s like to take an improv class before deciding to just register for one. It was a specialized workshop called “Higher Forms of Agreement” with Bill Binder. I was absolutely terrified, but I had been reading a lot of Paulo Coelho books at the time, so I was in the mood to take a risk and “realize my personal legend.” It was well worth it and it’s safe to say that I now spend most of my time watching, learning, and loving improv.
That was the first risk influenced by literature and now I’m taking my second one by spending three weeks by myself in New York City to take an improv intensive at the Magnet Theater. Anyone read Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho? Minus the part about the main character being scammed and turning to prostitution, I want to experience something other than what I’m used to and have a “why not?” attitude. Or in this case, a “yes and” attitude. I leave in four days* and I am terrified. But in the best way possible.
*Note from Jose: Rachel wrote this three days ago, so she actually leaves tomorrow morning!