As I approach the last semester of my college career, I take a step back and give myself a good look. To be honest, not much has changed. Okay that may be a little bit of a lie, my hair is a little longer, definitely thinner. I have lost the teenage angst look, well some of it. In a matter of 4 years I have transformed from goth to glam, I traded the thick black eyeliner for lots of glitter and a set of false lashes. I hate to be that stereotype, but I think I have to give credit for my choice of major. I am finishing up a B.F.A in Theatre at a state university. There is a terrible stigma at the school, because the fine arts majors are compared to the pharmaceutical majors, that being said you know where all the funding goes. Many students, and professors, don’t realize the amount of stress the students are put under and that the work is just as rigorous and grueling as any other major you come across. However, I survived (knock on wood), and here are my guidelines to surviving your 4 years at a state university completing a major in theatre.
1. Freshman year is a fresh start.
High school labeled you, it forced you into cliques and called you things you may not be proud of. Even if you are attending a school everyone from your high school is attending ( like me) branch out. Don’t stick with the clique, find a new one and take advantage of them. Your first semester will be filled with 101 class, whether they are in your major or not, they are full of strangers and people wanting to get to know other people. Say hello, introduce yourself. Knock on the door of the dorm next to you, or leave a message on their board. It all sounds extremely cheesy and a little bit of an invasion of privacy, but it works. This is a general tip for all college freshman, but if you’re a theatre major, you are also going to want to open up to your classmates, cause things will get uncomfortable quickly.
2.Choose Classes Wisely.
like I mentioned before, you are going to get close to the people in your department, extremely close. You are going to find that person that you automatically click with and want to spend all your free time together. As fun as it sounds, don’t do it to yourself. Utilize the classes outside of your major. Not only are there interesting classes available, but you are also surrounded by thousands of other students. Focus on non-lecture classes. Pick a topic you like, and do not, I repeat, DO NOT take the class with a friend. Not only will you get to know new people, but you will also get a break from the line up of 3 hour acting and script analysis classes you have.
3. Keep The Drama To the Stage,
and when that’s impossible, stay out of the lime light. As I keep going back to my statement before, you will spend a lot of time with these other theatre majors. You will spend a lot of time in a small building with a lot of people who like to be the center of attention. Learn to walk away and remind yourself that you are better than it. Remind yourself you are an adult and have left high school, freshman year is a fresh start.
4. Make a Name For Yourself.
You will constantly hear that this business is all about who you know and how much they like you. It is true, and right away the faculty is going to pick their favorites. If they don’t choose you, and you will know, don’t pout over and do not discredit yourself. Make connections with the right people, build bridges, do things out of your comfort zone and do it with your head held high. Don’t be that suck up, because the faculty may not see through it but the real world will. Work ethic is the most important thing, you don’t need to kiss someones ass to move ahead in this business, all it really takes is some blood, sweat and tears. Embrace the grit inside of you and don’t be afraid of coming off as cocky. If you are good at what you do, just do it and get shit done.
5. Don’t Second Guess.
You are here for a reason. You chose theatre because you love it. There are going to be rough patches, you are not going to get cast, you are going to forget your lines, you are going to miss cue. Remind yourself that life happens, nobody is perfect, and move on. Remind yourself that you are good at what you are do and you want to do it the rest of your life. When things don’t go your way, you don’t give up or give in. If you want some thing know that you can achieve it. You will not succeed in this business with a low self esteem. It’s cut throat, it’s competitive, and it will drive you crazy. It is also your passion and you live for it. If you work hard, you will never fail, it may not go the way you planned but that is the best part of theatre right? It’s live and you have to roll with the punches and do not be afraid to punch back.
I smile way more than I should and my favorite color is yellow.