Seniors in high school: Majoring in theatre is the ultimate dream for some- you’re training to do what you love, you’re learning new things to improve your performance, and most importantly you meet people that are just like you. It’s no secret that having a career in theatre is incredibly difficult to pursue. You’ll be hearing “no” all the time, and sometimes you won’t hear from anyone at all. So why are we so adamant to take on this career that cannot guarantee us a future? After 3 1/2 years of being a theatre major, here are some things I learned to keep me going.
1. Take risks: Just do it.
Whether it’s risking moving to a different state, whether it's risking throwing something in your acting scene, or whether it's risking buying a $150 orchestra seat to see Darren Criss in Hedwig- go for it. You’ll regret it if you don’t and constantly wonder what could’ve been. As cliché as it is, nobody ever became successful by playing it safe.
2. Always have a backup plan, or three, or twelve:
There is a very slim chance that the second you graduate from college, you’ll immediately be the next Christine in Phantom of the Opera (but it could happen, and props to you if it does). Be sure that you’re thinking of a second career path to pursue just in case theatre doesn’t work out. This doesn’t necessarily mean giving up performing forever; you can always audition as you take on another job. But just make sure you’re not relying on theatre to pay the bills after graduation.
3. Be sure to immerse yourself in all different types of theatre:
Living in New York City for my college experience, I had the opportunity to see several different shows (thank you to tix4students, Today Tix, and student rush) and expose myself to different artists and professionals. However, it doesn’t matter where you live- you can always see and experience theatre. And don’t just limit yourself to big, mega-musicals! See off-Broadway shows, see tours, see regional shows, experience performance art, or read some avant-garde theatre! There is so much more out there than just Wicked or Hamilton.
4. Don’t be rude:
As much as this is a life lesson, it is so important in the theatre world. Nobody likes to be threatened and nobody likes to feel inferior- so don’t make anybody feel that way. Karma will get you. Nobody wants to work with someone that looks down upon people and treats them poorly. In college, you’re in a class with other people and you’re all there for a reason- you’re talented and you have passion.
5. Educate yourself on some theatre history:
During my first year of college, my musical theatre history class was both the most enjoyable and most important. Learning about shows and how they correspond with world history helps improve your character and help you understand your desire and motivation. Plus, there are so many different shows that you may have heard of but no nothing about that could easily become your new favorite. What if a local theatre is doing one for the summer? You’ll have a head start on studying the script, and have your dream role set out for you. Don’t count on always being Sandy in Grease.
6. You can always change plans:
Whether you realize theatre isn’t for you or the school isn’t for you, YOU have the power to make changes. Nobody will judge you, nobody will look down upon you, and nobody will stop you. This is your life and this is your happiness on the line.
7. Enjoy yourself:
This is the most important thing I could tell you. Don’t waste your days away. Don’t keep yourself buried in textbooks and don’t hurt your voice belting “Astonishing” all day and night. Theatre college is still college, and you still deserve to have the college experience.
Moreover, if performing is something you love, go for it. William Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage.” Get on that stage and show them what you’ve got. You control your own future.
Photo: George Fox University