Whether you’re preparing to chase that Broadway spotlight or planning on operating it, most of us who choose to pursue a theatre degree in college have been pestered with that one dreaded query: “Are you sure you want to do that?!”
As an upcoming B.F.A. theatre arts student at Catawba College, this question has presented itself much more frequently as summer begins to draw to an end. It’s annoying and unfair (I mean, how many pre-meds get asked this, I’d like to know!), but can we really blame the asker for their ignorance?
I don’t think we can.
Theatre, both as a career path and hobby, falls into a whole different category than most of the “normal” stuff that the general public is used to encountering. Instead of sticking to one interest group in building our careers, we want to do it all. We use marketing and business principles in networking advances, psychological studies for our characters (and sometimes the unreadable audition audience), and definitely physical therapy as we rehab our bodies after a long rehearsal of belting or climbing to get that lighting instrument just right. We have such a passion for life and the interconnectedness of humans that we have to find an outlet in which we may pursue all aspects of this beautiful world.
Not to mention our ability to become addicted to the stage; that majestic platform on which we may create new worlds and reflect the truths of the one in which we live. The stage is a blank canvas, beckoning the actor and designer like a stream to a thirsty man. Taming that unquenchable beast becomes essential to living regardless of the conditions or fears that may stand as obstacles.
As theatre artists, we refuse to be stereotyped, caged, or labeled. Instead we take pride in deep observation and presentation. We cannot be satisfied by steadiness and security, a thought unreachable to those who do not share in our passion.
So next the next time the dreaded question appears, instead of getting angry or offended try to understand that the asker simply doesn’t understand. We’ll show them why we did it in the end.