“Mango & Me”
Fracaswell Hyman, author of Mango Delight
Mango Delight is about a girl who loses her best friend and ultimately finds her destiny. After Mango accidentally ruins her best friends new phone and their relationship, her ex-bestie plays a dirty trick on Mango. She signs Mango up to audition for the school musical knowing that Mango is too afraid to sing in front of anyone. But instead of letting her ex-friend humiliate her, Mango screws her courage to the sticking post, rises to the occasion and sings her heart out earning the lead role in the musical.
Acting, singing and dancing in a play is new territory for Mango. From a girl who only sang in the shower to being cast as the star of a show is a huge leap, risk and challenge for a character to take–and that makes it perfect to fuel a story. During the course of the novel, Mango discovers that being a part of the “dramanerds,” the kids who love to perform, is just where she is supposed to be.
When I was in middle-school, my secret desire was to be a part of the school productions, but I was too shy and never tried out. My first year in high school, a friend practically dragged me to auditions for the school musical, because he needed moral support. I don’t recall how it happened, but I somehow found the courage to audition and was cast, in the chorus, not the star like Mango. But just like Mango, I had found my tribe. In middle school and high school most students fall into their cliques; the jocks, the nerds, the popular kids, the artistic group, the rebels, the student government leaders, and so on. A kid is lucky to find their special group early on. Mango is and so was I.
The students that auditioned for the annual play, or were members of the orchestra or the stage crew were an interesting breed. We stayed late after school. Spent countless hours learning lines, songs and dances, and attending rehearsals and we didn’t do it for grades or extra credit. We did it for the camaraderie, for the chance to hang out with kids who loved the arts and shared our dreams. Being with this group, I found a place where I was comfortable enough to be myself. I was able to hone my sense of humor, my sense of empathy and courage, because it takes a lot of courage to risk making a fool of yourself in front of the entire student body. I did that and guess what? It was okay. Actually, it was more than okay, because I had friends next to me who were taking the same risks and were there to catch me when I fell.
It saddens me to see how quickly he arts are being cut from school programs because of smaller budgets. I hurt for the kids like me who didn’t fit into any of the other groups. Not many of us went on to become actors or have any connection to show business at all, but that was never the point. The important things were the interactions, the relationships, the commitment to giving your all to doing the best you could, finding the courage to come out of your shell and making yourself proud of yourself.
Through Mango I get to relive those wonderful years and create a character whose story will take her through the ups and downs of following her passion as she strives to make her dreams come true. I’m betting there are a lot of “dramanerds” out there who’ll be happy to come along for the ride.