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The Hawkeye

The grandmaster’s last play

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Senior Tyler Grabarczyk wears the masks of comedy and tragedy nearly everywhere. He’ll talk about his self-described “debonair” personality, call himself a baller or better yet, “everything a man or a woman wants.”

His proudest high school moment, he said, was when he opened his senior year lip syncing and dancing with teachers at the homecoming assembly.

Grabarczyk is best known for his work on stage — he acts by the script, but also improvises for Theatre Sports. In improv for three years, Grabarczyk has learned to live in the moment both under and out of the spotlight.

But even for formal school productions, Grabarczyk isn’t bound by the script. Senior and drama club president Kimi Fenn said Grabarczyk personalizes each performance by adding surprises to his character, which turns the show around.

“In every show that Tyler is in, he brings a unique energy,” Fenn said. “He’s branching out and becoming someone who a lot of people get along with.”

Drama teacher Jeannie Brzovic admires Grabarczyk’s flexibility and confidence on stage.

“The same things I like about Tyler are the same things I like about him as an actor,” she said. “[The audience] can actually forget that it’s Tyler up there [on stage].”

Grabarczyk’s theater work began sophomore year backstage in theater tech due to stage fright.

But junior year, Grabarczyk found the courage to be on stage and auditioned for his first production after the graduating class said the drama department was shrinking. Grabarczyk earned the lead role in “The Importance of Being Earnest” and later won an outstanding actor award and a varsity letter for his performance.

“When you have a fear, it is easily overcomeable,” Grabarczyk said. “My confidence is just skyrocketing at an exponential rate.”

Grabarczyk admits he talks to his mother after performances, due to occasional anxiety attacks despite strong performances. He admires his mother’s big heart because she comforts him and showers him in his favorite flowers — roses, tulips and poinsettias.

Grabarczyk still encounters stage fright backstage, but aims to become independent and “be a stronger person.”

And the show goes on. The feeling Grabarczyk gets during the roll call differs greatly from what he often feels backstage. He described on stage as “instant euphoria and adrenaline,” but is more excited about when the curtains come down.

“When all of [the adrenaline from being on stage and the crowding] is gone, you still feel the rush in your veins,” he said.

The still-roaring applause he hears when he meets the audience after the show is the icing on the cake. One of the reasons he continues to act is to look forward to “meeting all [his] friends who actually came out and supported [him].”

By senior year, practicing drama became a routine for Grabarczyk and he soon realized that drama is more than just memorizing dialogue.

“It’s also putting emphasis on words in the line and understanding the character,” he said. “It’s just everything about the script that you can change because the script is just words and you can change those words to have different meanings.”

To this day, Grabarczyk remains awestruck from the acting styles that vary among performers. He said he would be disappointed if his acting had not inspired a student to feel the same way.

Taking on different personas while acting has allowed Grabarczyk to discover and explore aspects of himself, giving him “insight to see what [he] can actually do.”

Grabarczyk also dedicates time to keeping the arts alive and staying actively involved in the school and his academics. He is employed by the school district as a theater technician, is president of Chess Club, was voted senior class speaker and shows his brilliance in his love for science.

In third grade, Grabarczyk had a dream about chemistry. Although irrelevant then, his teachers’ influence guided him into his career in science.

During Chess Club on May 26, Grabarczyk claimed he hates surprises and remained intensely focused on his match; he surveyed the chessboard with a steely-eyed concentration when a tap on the shoulder interrupted him.

He hit the chess clock. While the wall clock still showed the seconds ticking by, time stopped for both the chess clock and Grabarczyk.

Standing there was Gilbert Comeau, former MTHS science teacher, who retired last year. At the sight of his favorite teacher, Grabarczyk began to cry.

“I like surprises, but I can’t stand waiting for them,” Grabarczyk confessed, laughing in astonishment, showing his true self.

Grabarczyk was in Comeau’s physical science class his sophomore year. Although he initially hated science, it soon became his favorite subject.

“He was always enthusiastic and eager for knowledge,” Comeau said. “He’s upbeat, funny, always an interesting guy. He always comes up with some new psychotic thing.”

Comeau’s tangents on black holes and relativity set Grabarczyk’s post-high school plans in motion. He recalled the memory when Comeau spoke to Grabarczyk individually to discuss his goals.

“Comeau practically paved the way for me,” Grabarczyk said. “I realized there’s a future for me in [science].”

The “best buds” played a friendly round of chess together. Grabarczyk, who hopes to become a grandmaster at chess, won, but it seemed as if no time had passed between him and Comeau.

Grabarczyk said his knowledge has grown tremendously because he “likes knowing how things work.” He hopes to have a personal impact like Comeau, but not from a teaching standpoint.

Following graduation, Grabarczyk aspires to attend the University of British Columbia, earn a Ph.D. in physics, work as a theoretical physicist in Vancouver and win a Nobel Prize.

Grabarczyk’s final production was his favorite play, “Almost, Maine.” However, the only time he wants to go back on stage is to accept an award for his work in science.

After graduation, Grabarczyk plans to pass the drama baton to an eccentric, perky person who will “kick [Brzovic’s] butt.”

“Nothing really matters in high school. I mean, your grades matter, your attendance matters. You stop caring about how the whole world perceives you,” Grabarczyk said. “Like Dr. Seuss said, ‘you have to be odd to be number one.’”

He thanked the drama department and graduating class of 2016 for being people he will never forget and for the memories he’s made.

And with that, Tyler Grabarczyk takes his final bow.

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
The grandmaster’s last play