Jill Slaughter and older sister Susan swinging on swings

Jill and sister Susan on swings

Middle class Jews went to bungalow colonies during the summers in upstate New York during the 1960’s, and that’s where my family went. We transported sheets, towels, clothes, pots, pans, and everything else we needed to recreate a household, and left my dad home alone to fend for himself with two towels, a box of cereal, a container of milk, and all the quiet of an empty house. My mother, two sisters, and brother left for the months of July and August.

Our summers were uncomplicated and carefree. My sisters and I learned to dance, and swim, and do things we never did in Brooklyn, like archery and volleyball. We learned to be girls and how to talk to boys, or not talk to boys. And we acted in cheesy summer camp plays.

glass slipper on pillow cushion with tassels

glass slipper on pillow

The scene opened with a knock, and I was the star. Cinderella. My dad had driven up from the city, and probably brought my grandmother with him to see the play. My own sisters were cast as the mean step sisters so my parents didn’t have to sit through three corny plays in a stifling hot clubhouse. In just over an hour the play would be over, and everybody could go back to the pool.

But I was paralyzed. Stage fright had gripped every fiber of my eleven year old self. I didn’t even know what stage fright was. Rehearsals went fine, maybe they had even been fun for me, but dressed in costume I became fossilized, unable to move, or hear, or see. I don’t know how long I stood center stage, petrified and not responding to any cues, but it must have been long enough. Long enough for my counselor, AKA the director to decide to take drastic measures…she threw a shoe at me. I began to speak. About ten minutes in I launched into my solo. Woefully singing “Cinderella, Cinderella, all I hear is Cinderella, from the moment that I get up to shades of night are falling, there isn’t any let up, I hear them calling calling, go up in to the attic and go down in to the cellar you can do them both together Cinderella”…I can still sing that song, all of it.

Jill Slaughter accepting award for Faces of the Arts Broward County

Jill Slaughter - Faces of the Arts award ceremony

Back stage at the Faces of the Arts Broward County awards ceremony, waiting to be introduced as one of the faces, all I could think about was being Cinderella and having stage fright. The Chamber Orchestra of Hungary was providing the entertainment and I thought that the conductor might this time be the one to throw a shoe at me. The organizer of the event told the recipients that we wouldn’t be speaking and then it occurred to me that all I had to do was smile.

Jill in lobby of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Jill at Faces of the Arts party 7-20-11

I grew up often hearing that I didn’t smile enough. Mostly I didn’t because I wasn’t amused that often, and at twelve years old I was hit by a panel truck which resulted in chipped front teeth, and then I didn’t want to smile. That became my persona, a cross between brooding and mysterious. But at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts as one of the Faces of the Arts Broward County all I had to do was smile.

Jill's hands in lap wearing dark nail polish wearing her white peace sign ring