I'm a Theatre Major....And Here's Why

Rikki Ziegelman

 If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me what type of job I’d get with a degree in musical theatre, I wouldn’t need a job after college.

After high school, there is always pressure to take the next step. If you don’t go to college, people assume that you have no dreams or aspirations- that you yearn for that cashier position at McDonalds. So finally, you find your passion for the arts and declare your major. Suddenly, people think the cashier job is a better option.

Individuals do not yearn for a degree in theatre for the purpose of getting a piece of paper; they go to college to get training. Isn’t that why everyone goes to college? I mean what’s so different about getting training to be a doctor and getting training to be a performer? As an actor, I want to learn how to become the character, just as a prelaw student has to learn how to become a lawyer. As a singer, I want to learn how to perform high notes, just as a doctor wants to learn how to perform surgeries and tests. We are both learning, and the material doesn’t make us any more or less a student. We all want to be successful, just in our own unique ways.    

Then there are the people who assume that gaining a degree in theatre means all the classes we take are performance classes and that all we know how to do is sing, act and dance. Wrong. Being a performer means you know how to entertain a crowd. Being a performer means that you have no fear of public speaking. Being a performer means you have an extensive knowledge of history. If I’m doing a show about the 1920’s, shouldn’t I know a thing or two about the time period? To be a performer, you must grasp an understanding of every topic- not just how to do a pirouette (which, of course- we can do as well).

 People pay money to go to college to study what they love. Why would anyone invest $40,000 and 4 years of my life to take useless classes and be unhappy? College is the place where you discover yourself and figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. So what am I going to do with my degree in theatre? I’m going to do the same thing that a person with a degree in law would do, or a degree in science or communications. I’m going to look for a stable job before I begin my career. I’m going to take that piece of paper that we deem as a degree and frame it because I survived 4 years of test taking, paper writing, and sleepless nights. I’m going to apply my training to auditions, just as doctors would apply their training to their patients. I’m going to book a job in a show just as a prelaw student would get a job at a law firm. I am a student here on forward- and whatever I study is my choice.