Tag Archive: acting


Here’s a quick rundown of the top 5 things I really don’t want to hear when you find out I have a degree in drama:

 

5. “That’s cool. I did acting in high school.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think that’s awesome, cause I do. I always think it’s awesome when people are getting involved in theatre, or any arts for that matter, even if you only did it cause you thought it would be a bird course. But first of all, you don’t “do acting.” Please, people, grammar is still a thing. And also, I know you’re just trying to be relatable but I can relate to you on other levels where we have mutual knowledge. Theatre isn’t the only thing I know about. (Cause, you know, I went to an actual university so I learned about other things too.)

4. “So, like, how do you memorize all those lines? It seems so hard!”

I don’t know, I just do it. I don’t understand how you crunch numbers or make graphs and stuff but I also get that that’s your thing and you do it. Memorizing is my thing and I just do it. (And also it’s a seriously negligible part of my thing anyway.)

3. “You should do this cool thing I heard about called the Fringe.”

Please. Do you really think I graduated from theatre school and I don’t know what the Fringe is? Did you graduate from teacher’s college and not know what what a classroom is? No, I didn’t think so. And also, you don’t just “do” anything in the established theatre world. Yes, you can make your own work but if you want to participate in any existing theatre, festival, major company etc., there are processes you have to follow. I don’t make ignorant suggestions to you about how to get by in your industry, please don’t patronize me by thinking you know the inner workings of mine.

2. “And now you’re….????”

Am I working in my field? No. Did you graduate with your business degree and immediately become the CEO of a major corporation? No. Graduating from anything doesn’t guarantee you a job in your field. We’re all just trying to do our thing okay, so don’t judge me because you don’t think my degree is valid or something.

And the number 1 thing I really never want to hear you say when you find out what I got my degree in:

“Oh! That must have been so fun and easy!!”

Oh yeah, taking a full class load on top of rehearsing a minimum of 22 hours a week and also working in a theatre to get practical experience in my field? Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Writing academic* papers when your university doesn’t take your department seriously enough to subscribe to any actual resources? Piece of cake. Not only being marked on your artistic work (that you probably poured your heart, soul, blood and tears into) but also being publicly judged on it? No sweat off my back.

*Yes, academic. I went to university too and there are as many legitimate discussions to be had in my field as there are in yours.

I know you think that all I did in school was sit around in a circle and talk about my feelings or something but believe me, we didn’t have time for that kind of BS. When you’ve got monologues and scenes to prepare, a production opening in two weeks and two papers and a midterm the day after opening you don’t have time to think about your feelings let alone talk about them. My degree entailed just as much work as yours. Just because your work was different doesn’t make mine invalid.

If you’re actually interested in what I do, then by all means, I’d love to chat. But if you’re just going to say something insulting, just stop before you get there. “Oh cool!” is totally good enough.

Thoughts on Wandering

I recently graduated from university. Woah. I mean, it’s been a few months now but sometimes I still get stopped in my tracks (mentally and physically) trying to process that fact. After 18 years of school, give or take, this is the first September that I didn’t have a back-to-school to prepare for and look forward to. While so many of my friends were headed back to their apartments and their clubs and their lives I was staying still, in my parents’ house which feels a little less like home than it used to. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about school and my friends that are still there and my friends from there that are scattered about the country. I miss them. I miss my apartment, my town, my school. I miss classes and I really, really miss the theatre. The pictures and videos that flood social media make me feel at once happy, to see familiar faces doing familiar things, and sad, that I’m not there to experience with them. But as the weeks have worn on, it’s died down from a roaring fire to a dull glow. And it’s been these last few weeks of work that have made me realize why.

I’d like to preface this realization by saying I love my job. I really do. I’m a baker and, no, it has nothing to do with my education but I have always baked as a hobby and now I get to do it everyday. I don’t particularly like mornings but because I enjoy my job, getting up at 3:30am to go to work doesn’t really phase me. But as I was getting to know my new co-workers the obvious icebreaker question was “How long have you been here.”

One girl said “A year and a half.”

And I thought, “Man, that’s a long time.”

Really, when you think about it, a year and a half at a job really makes you quite green; it’s not at all a long time. But to me, who has never had a full time job before, it seemed long. And then one day I was talking to my manager and I asked her how long she had been with the company.

And she said “Five years!”

And I thought, “Damn.”

I realized in that moment that the thought of going to the same job and doing the same thing and being with the same people everyday for five years, truth be told even a single year, is unbearable to me. Even in a job like mine, where it’s different everyday and I like what I do and I like the people I work with, the thought of being in the same place, doing the same thing this time next year terrifies me and makes me feel extremely trapped. And five years? Forget it! In all likelihood, I will, in fact, still be at the same job a year from now (and I’m okay with that) but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make me feel paralyzed to my very core.

There’s a line in a song that plays all the time while I drive that goes “I’m a wanderer and a wanderer I’ll always be.” I’ve always liked the line, it’s usually the only line from the song that gets stuck in my head but I never knew why until this experience at work. I guess it feels almost autobiographical, in a sense. I crave new things. When I’m in one place for too long, I get restless and depressed. The longest I’ve stayed in one place since I graduated high school is just over six months and that’s the way I, apparently, like it. It’s a huge part, too, of why I love theatre. It’s never permanent. No matter what, it’s over in six weeks. If it’s a horrible show, well, it’s over and people will forget about it. (Or they’ll remember how horrible it was but at least it’s over!) And if it’s brilliant? It’s still over in six weeks and everyone that was a part of it and everyone that saw it gets this unique feeling knowing they were apart of something special. Even if you go back to the same show or the same character at a different time it’s still a completely different experience than it was the first time. You get to live in different countries and eras for a short, intense period of time and then, you say goodbye and move on.

And to tie this all back to the beginning here, I think that’s why the dull ache has settled in. I’ve gotten really close to a lot of people and places over the years but in the end I’ve had to move on from all of them. And I don’t mean move on in the sense that they are out of sight, out of mind. I just mean that they are somewhere and I am somewhere else. They are still important parts of my life, and I’m lucky to live in the age of technology where I get to stay in contact with those people and see pictures of those places, but they are one part of my life and I live in another part. It’s just the way it is. And so even though I’m sad about not being at school anymore, I also know that I probably wouldn’t want to be there if I was because it was time to move on. It’s hard to picture the future and not know where I’ll be. In fact, it terrifies me almost as much, maybe even more, than picturing the future and seeing myself in the same place next year but there’s a reason I chose the field I did and that’s because given the choice, I’d rather choose the terrifying that’s exciting rather than the one that’s not. And honestly, I did not know this about myself a month ago but luckily, as the great J.R.R. Tolkien wisely reminds us, not all who wander are lost and not all that is over is past.

Let me preface this by saying I am a performer. I’ve been acting since I was a kid and have made my way through all sorts of various arts of performing at some point or another over the years. I love it, I study it, I live it. But the other night, as I was step touching my way through a choir show I was struck with a question: Why?

I have to admit, that despite how much I love the performing arts, I have this thought at some point during every show I perform in, every show I tech for, every show I see. It strikes me hardest when I am actually doing the performing though. It usually comes in the middle of a show when I look out at the audience and see the ocean of faces staring back at me and I am overwhelmed with doubt and wonder. Why do we do this? What is the point of standing up there on that stage? What is the point of sitting in an audience watching other people up on that stage? What on earth would possess anyone to put themselves through all the inevitably hellish aspects of creating a performance? Why don’t we just stay home?

I guess a lot of these questions come from the age of technology that I grew up in but sometimes it all just seems so futile and so pointless. There are a lot of logical reasons why we continue to support the live performance industry: entertainment, public platform, education, the ever abstract “art.” And yet, none of these reasons seem to satisfactorily explain my inner conflict. And then today, I was having a conversation with a voice teacher and she brought up something that finally resonated with me. It’s the group consciousness. It’s the same reason that people join sports teams or activist movements. And while I can’t exactly speak to the experience of those things I can say absolutely that there is something about performing, and even watching live performance, that takes you outside of yourself. You are part of a something bigger and sharing that consciousness with your fellow performers, and the complete strangers in the audience, is an out-of-body experience like no other. It allows you to be expressive in away that society would frown upon in any other context. It allows you to literally step inside someone else. Even if you aren’t playing a specific character, for instance like the choir show that inspired this rumination, the act of being onstage allows you to take on any characteristics that you want to. Of course there are other pretty sound reasons that performing and watching performance is pretty cool. Like getting to explore the human psyche in imaginary situations and getting to bring all sorts of art forms (costume, light, set design etc) together in one, living, breathing space. And let’s be honest, commanding that kind of attention is a bit of a rush too but ultimately, for me, it comes down to the freedom that being part of an ensemble gives me to be expressive and to experience some kind of higher, group mentality.

It’s a hard question to ponder and it always brings up some existential crisis within me, but inevitably when the show is over, the set is struck and the lights are turned off I am filled with a great sadness that it is over and a burning desire to start it all over again. I’m sure that as the months and years pass by I’ll get to discover even more of the never ending reasons that it’s all worth it in the end but for now, the next time I’m staring at the crowd and wondering what I’m doing, I’m going to make sure to take a moment to appreciate the people up there with because the bond of an ensemble is something to be truly cherished.