- Rebecca Parham: Some of you understand what you're about to get into. In three of my videos, I have mentioned a certain teacher of mine. A certain mentally unstable vindictive teacher. Given that one of those videos is over seven million views at the moment, people are getting a little curious about this infamous educator from my past. Well, gird thy loins, explainers and entertainers. Because we're finally talking about it, here we go. This is the story of my emotionally abusive high school theater teacher. Now because it is theater, I know I run the risk of sounding like a crybaby whining over there teacher not giving them the lead part in the play, and trust me, I completely understand people like that exist. I've been in theater a long time but I'd like to think that this story has more to do with me being in an unhealthy authority figure relationship. I'm not a martyr here, I guarantee others have had it far worse, but this woman did her damage. We'll call her Medusa. And fun fact number one, that was her actual nickname, and she wore it like a freakin badge of honor. No joke. She put up a sign on the backstage door that said "Keep out. Beware Medusa.". Boy, that should have been a warning in more ways than one. Okay, so I met Medusa my first year of high school. She was the only teacher running the entire theater department, so no matter what type of theater class you took, she would be teaching it. She also ran the theater club, and directed all the after-school plays, all casting decisions were left up to her. You're catching my drift, she had a totalitarian grip on every aspect of this theater department. There was no other adult there to balance her out, or more importantly, witness her behavior. Now, for some context about who I was back then in high school, I was remarkably shy, socially awkward, a goody two-shoes, a nervous wreck and I didn't really have any friends, even in the theater club. I was a doormat to put it bluntly. But when I stepped onto a stage, I was a completely different person. I could be strong and brave, confident and clever. I could show the world what I was made of performing was my release my therapy. I guess that's why I didn't immediately take a powder when I learned how crazy this theater teacher was. I was holding out for that one big part that one chance to show everyone what I could do and pleasing this woman was the key to what I wanted. Yeah that won't lead to anything bad, I'm sure. So what made Medusa so awful I hear you asking? Well, for one, she was incredibly unpredictable. You never knew what kind of mood she was gonna be in or what was gonna set her off. A joke she laughed at yesterday would offend her the next day. One day, she's kind and supportive. The next day, she's catty and vindictive. And because of her volatile nature, it was a gamble any time you needed to ask her a question or ask for help. Sometimes, she'd be decent enough, and then sometimes, she'd blow up in your face for wasting her time with a dumb question.
- Medusa: "Ask someone else".
- Rebecca Parham: It would take me a stupid amount of time just to work up the courage to ask her a question before chickening out and finding a different way around my problem. Though, I think one of the most frustrating things about Medusa was her favoritism. Plain and simple. If you weren't one of her favorites, there was a very low chance of you getting a big part in a play or sometimes a part at all. I'm not saying she was shallow. No, that's exactly what I'm saying. Because all of her favorites had two things in common: They were pretty and they were popular. Two skills yo girl rolled a zero on. Medusa also protected her favorites to an infuriating degree. One of them was a big bully of mine and Medusa did absolutely nothing to stop it even after I begged her to step in. I was talking to my mom about this script and she told me that she once confronted Medusa about this bully at an after-school play and Medusa was more concerned about him getting in trouble than what he was doing to me. Oh, that is a very brave thing to say to a protective mother. Correction: That is a very brave thing to say to my mother. So, yeah. If you weren't one of her favorites, you were stuck in the chorus as they say:
- Fan: "Hey, Becca, maybe you were just an awful actor."
- Rebecca Parham: I mean, fair point. Maybe I just wasn't any good. Thing is, Medusa always gave me A's for my performances in the theater classes during the normal school days. Medusa even once rushed up to the stage after a dark dramatic scene to give me a hug because she was so moved by my performance. So, you see, I got mixed signals from this woman all the time. I didn't know what to think. "Dang it, do you hate me or not?!" In this cat-and-mouse stringing me a long emotional manipulation was what kept me hopeful. I'd think to myself: "If I don't complain, if I do my best if I do every little thing she asks of me, maybe one day she will throw me a bone. Maybe one day I will gain her favor and be given a good part in a play." "Hey, you hear that? That's not good. That is not a healthy mindset to be in. That is an unhealthy relationship to have with anyone." But that was the story for me for three years of high school. However, when senior year came, something happened. And let me just set this up for you: Once when I was a freshman I asked Medusa why she didn't give me a part in the latest play and she told me:
- Medusa: "Seniors take precedence in casting because they're graduating".
- Rebecca Parham: And I thought: "Okay, well I guess that makes sense. When I'm a senior I'll be a priority.". Come senior year, pretty much all of her favorites had graduated and the only two senior actors left were me and this one other guy. In fact. a very large portion of the club had either graduated or left so pickings were pretty slim that year for willing participants. Anyways, we were gonna do the comedic play "Noises Off". And in that show, there is a role called "Dotty", meant for an older woman who needed a cockney accent and had a boy toy love interest. Hilarious. So naturally being, the oldest girl in the theater department, having a plump middle-aged looking body, being able to do a pretty great cockney accent and being a senior meant that the stars were finally aligning in my favor. And the day before the audition, I was hanging out in the theater club room and I told another student that I was hoping for the part of Dotty and Medusa overheard. She looked right at me, smiled, nodded very obviously and gave me a big thumbs up. "Gee, Becca, it sounds like chances of getting this part are pretty good.". I know, right? That's what I thought, too. But gosh golly darn it, call me M night Shyamalan because this story has a twist. I went to the audition, gave it everything I had, knocked it out of the park was the only girl who could do a cockney accent. But the next morning, Medusa posted the cast on the bulletin board and... Nothing. She didn't even cast me...
- [Rebecca overthinks]
- Rebecca Parham: "Excuse me, Medusa, I was wondering: Why didn't you cast me?"
- Medusa: "Oh, it's because you were too tall."
- [Rebecca gets mentally surprised]
- Rebecca Parham: Too.. tall..?"
- Medusa: "Yes. Only short guys auditioned and I needed your love interest to be taller than you."
- Rebecca Parham: Funny thing about that excuse, she had cast the only senior as my love interest, and he was in fact, taller than me. So yeah, she flat-out lied to my face. But because I think I was in shock, I didn't question it, at that moment, and I just walked away. Turns out the truth eventually came out because a couple days later, some concerned tech theater girls told me they heard Medusa say something in passing conversation with the other students.
- Medusa: "The reason I didn't cast Becca is because she's not one of the group. She keeps to herself way too much and doesn't have any friends.".
- Rebecca Parham: She didn't cast me, because I wasn't popular.
- [Rebecca laughs evilly]
- Rebecca Parham: That's it, I am done. I am out. Goodbye, I am over this insanity. You ain't dragging me down with your sister peace, adios, sayonara, des padania, bonsoir, and all those other different languages. Consider this my final bow because we are done here. Thanks for the memories! You'll make a great YouTube video, someday. Bye bye! And I left, I left and went straight to my advisor to drop out of all of Medusa's classes, which my advisor was very happy to do for me when she learned which teacher I was trying to escape.
- Theater department advisor: "Oh, yeah. She's crazy. Consider it done."
- Rebecca Parham: I'll be honest, the situation was a little bit more complicated than just not being given the part that I wanted. There was so much more! But this video is long enough already. And let me tell you something, explainers and entertainers. The moment I left, I felt like a completely different person. My confidence shot through the roof, I was happier, I didn't care so much what people thought anymore, heck even guys were paying more attention to me. My choir director noticed the change and gave me the award for most improved senior. I didn't even have to give up my love of theater because I went out and auditioned for community theater, with adults. I even got a leading part in a musical that summer and won the best actress award for the show season at that particular theater. Everything had fallen into place for me and all because I finally worked up the courage to say: "I deserve better!" and walk away from a toxic relationship. These situations don't always end like fairy tales, but for me, it did. So what happened to Medusa? A couple years after I graduated, I remember hearing the news that she had been forced to resign. I can't be a hundred percent sure if this is the true story, so take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt. But this was the story I was told: Medusa got incredibly intoxicated on an overnight competition trip with students, locked herself in the boys hotel room and passed out on the bed, forcing the boys to sleep in the girls room. Yeah, I mean knowing her, that completely makes sense. When I first heard, I wasn't surprised in the slightest. I guess all I can say is: Peace out, Medusa. Wherever you are these days, I hope you're in a better place mentally and emotionally, I mean that. Hey, at least she taught me that a bad situation in the past doesn't have to weigh you down, because if I'm honest, I'm pretty sure as my time spent with Medusa that taught me how to stand up to an even worse teacher later on down the line. So that's the long and short of it, explainers in entertainers. There are more stories that came out of Medusa's theater department, but those are their own videos for another day. Thank you so much for tuning in but now, I gotta tune out. Bye!
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