Time Ticks On

Freshman Ty Hart gives new meaning to "the show must go on" Dealing with traumatic events 24 hours before curtain


Mackensey Faith

Freshman Ty Hart smiling for the camera in the Cy Woods dressing room

Imagine a routine revolved around taking care of another person. Not just any person, but your own father. Imagine a routine where you wake up every day and the first thought is that you need to make sure your dad took his medicine. Then you sit through a whole day of school and late night rehearsals while constantly checking for a message that your dad died.

Imagine living in this fear.

This was the day-to-day life for Freshman Ty Hart this past year as his father underwent treatment for glioblastoma brain cancer. While juggling his rigorous class schedule and numerous school productions, Hart remained dedicated to the strict and unpleasant round-the-clock routine dedicated to taking care of his father.

After countless hours of rehearsals and research for Cy Wood’s Annual One Act Play Festival, Hart found out, with less than 36 hours to curtain, that his dad passed away, which gave a whole new meaning to “the show must go on.”

“Even in your weakest moments, your strongest traits can come out,” Hart said. “no matter what is going on just because you’re going through a weak or rough time in your life doesn’t mean you can’t be strong.”

One Act Play Festival is a competition of student-directed one act plays comprised 100% of Cy Woods thespians who make up the cast, crew and production team. Every year student directors choose a play, cut it down to 40 minutes, cast it and compete against each other. The show Hart was cast in was These Shining Lives, in which he played multiple characters. Hart played Mr. Reed, Mr. Grossman, and the Company Doctor.

“It was the show that I wanted to be in,” Hart said, “I was happy because the specific roles I got really helped me learn how to manage a show and it let me show how I can play more than one [character] in the same show.”

The day of festival Hart came to school like nothing changed and told his director that his dad passed away the previous night, but he would still be performing in the One Act Play Festival because he felt that was what his father would have wanted.

“I just knew that it would make him happy and I felt he would want me to.” Hart said. “No matter where I was in the world, he would want me to.”

Additionally, Heart said it would not have been fair for him to quit on the day of competition because the rest of the cast and crew had worked so hard on the production.

“I didn’t want me to be a reason that they lacked and they couldn’t perform,” Hart said.

Hart’s dedication to the production inspired many people, especially Senior Julie Smith who was the lead of These Shining Lives.

“[Hart] had always taken the show and his role pretty seriously, and he had worked really hard, but I feel like after his dad died, he kind of buckled down and was like ‘I’m doing this’ and it made me look at myself and I was like, ‘If his dad can die and he can still find it in himself to put on an amazing performance, than I owe it to him and I owe it to his dad to do the same,’” Smith said.

In addition to Hart’s dedication, Smith also was inspired by Hart’s positivity following his dad’s passing and throughout the festival process and performance. Currently Hart is still content that there is good to come from his dad’s passing.

“It’s all going to work out and be for a good cause and purpose in the end,” Hart said. “It gave me the drive that I needed to finish [These Shining Lives] and the drive that I’m going to use to keep having the same determination in every other show that I don’t have a situation to push me through. I can have this to now push me through every other situation.”

Hart has performed in numerous theatres in Houston over the years like Theatre Under the Stars, Stageworks and even here at Cy Woods in shows like Chicago and Broadway in Concert. Additionally, Hart performed with organizations in New York such as Broadway Artist Alliance where he learned to have more control over his voice and body. However, none of his prior training truly prepared him for this situation, and Hart was not prepared for the lessons it taught him.

“I’ve learned that you never know what’s gonna happen ‘till you try something,” Hart said. “I’ve learned to always take risks because you never know when something could happen to you. One day my dad was living perfectly fine and going to work and the next day he’s diagnosed with brain cancer and he had a year left to live. This whole thing with my dad really showed me that I shouldn’t live my life with regret, and I’ve learned if there’s something that is going to make you happy you should do it because you never know how long you have so don’t live with regret and take chances when you have them that aren’t life threatening.”

Hart said that These Shining Lives affected him because the story had similarities to his own story and his journey with his dad’s cancer.

“The show is not the same as my dad’s story, but it’s similar,” Hart said. “The whole point of These Shining Lives was time and waiting. You know it’s never going away, and you just have to wait until you are done. It was very hard to listen to it and watch in full because it just reminded me. It was not like I was nervous, but I was like ‘Am I actually going to be able to do this?’…”

The day of the competition while preparing to perform, the cast and crew of These Shining Lives dedicated their performance to Hart’s father and the show won best play in the festival.

“It felt good because it’s like ‘you did it you accomplished your goal’ like ‘you did this for him and you didn’t care about winning first you just wanted to do good,’” Hart said. “It really showed me that he’s still with me everywhere even though he’s not actually here. [Winning] was just a sign he’s still with me wherever I go.”

Both Hart said he enjoyed the processes greatly and he learned a lot about himself as a person and a performer.

“No matter how bad it is the situation doesn’t define how much strength you have,” Hart said. “I’ve learned that you have the same amount of strength in every situation it’s just are you going to use it? I’ve learned to use it because you need [strength] in a good situation and a bad situation, so I’ve learned to always be strong.”