If you pay attention to local theater, you've probably noticed 18-year-old actress Lucille Petty. She fell in love with theater at Amphi Middle School and realized it was her life's calling while taking youth classes at Live Theatre Workshop. You can see Petty in the Invisible Theatre production of Circle Mirror Transformation, which closes Sunday, Nov. 20. Petty plays 16-year-old Lauren, one of four people in a community drama class. For more on the show, visit www.invisibletheatre.com, and our story online.
Are you originally from Tucson?
I was born in Illinois, but a year later, we moved to Tucson. ... As far as education goes, I was mostly in the public-school system until I went to (charter school) City High. I went there because it was small, and I would have no fear of judgment or bullying or anything. I went to Amphi Middle School and had a hard time with harassment.
When did you first fall in love with theater?
I started doing school plays in middle school, which is part of the reason why people thought I was weird, and that's when I started doing summer camps at Live Theatre Workshop. What grabbed me at first was that so many people at one place wanted to do the same thing: Put on a show, and a good show.
What is it about the theater community that makes it feel right?
This is something that I've thought a lot about. People in the theater community all have similar goals, whether in sound design, costume, actor, director or any real part of a theater company. It is just about creating things, and we all share that similar goal. It is a creativeness that makes it easy to accept that other people are like that. There are still questions: "Why is this person doing this? You look like a freak," or, "That's so strange," but it also comes with a mutual acceptance that everyone has their own thing.
What do you consider the first real show you performed in?
The first show I did that I was a big part of was Cabaret in a class I took at Live Theatre Workshop. I was amazed at how much input they wanted from me. It was the first advanced class I took there. The teachers there really saw I was super-committed to being there. I did start doing some of the family-theater productions, and even that was awesome, having a consistent show and playing weekend after weekend. I think I was cast ... because Michael Martinez and Amanda Gremel really saw that I just wanted to perform. ... Since then, I've been conscious of my drive and work ethic.
I think the first adult show I remember seeing you in was LTW's Picnic.
That was the first mainstage show I did, or serious work ... but that was really my first step in not being treated as a child actor. Although before that, I was in (LTW late-night series) Etcetera's Rocky Horror Show. ... I was working with all of these actors who were older than me. Such is my work; I am consistently working with actors older than me, which I am fine with. I had seen Rocky Horror, but being able to be part of that and do the choreography for that and have it seen by hundreds of people over the course of a few weeks was a different experience.
Is it difficult being taken seriously at your age?
I feel like being this age, it gives me a chance for failure, and that is obviously something I need. A lot of people are edgy about the fact that I've decided not to go to college, but I've found more value to experience—growing this career for myself by just being out there, and working with other companies and defining myself. I have had a hard time with school, but not grade-wise. I just wanted to be done, move out, get a job and live as an artist.
Why not college?
College is so expensive. I understand the benefits of it, but it will be more to my benefit to do what I can in this community rather than (have) all my shows on my résumé from the college. Right now, I am learning to do good work. I'd rather be out there doing work that is important to me. That's one of the reasons I don't see myself moving to New York or Los Angeles. I don't want to do a commercial or a cattle call, but shows that really mean something to me.