Degree in Theatre, Not On Broadway, You Must Be A Failure

Chris Peterson

  • OnStage Founder

Every spring thousands of theatre students earn their degree from various colleges. From all those students, only a small fraction of them will ever appear on a Broadway stage. For those who don't, that must make them failures right?

I can't tell you many times I've had this conversation with various people and it drives me nuts every time.

Will my name ever appear on the Shubert marquee? Will I ever star in a Kitt and Yorkey musical? Will I ever win a Tony? No. But it amazes me that anything less than this is considered a failure.

They forget that we're fantastic public speakers, a rare skill these days. It doesn't matter if it's front of five or five hundred, we'll own the room. Just give us our lines and we'll deliver.

You need us to work longer than the usual 9-5? Apparently you've never been through Hell Week where half the cast doesn't know their lines, the set isn't done and the director has just given you his eighth speech about "Keeping it together!"

You want outside the box thinking? We spent four years never going near the box.

You need us to do research? We spent hours looking over the "Restoration comedy" period till we went insane. You don't have to tell us about anything when it comes to research.

This position might lead to more no's then yes'? Yeah, we know something about that.

It might take some time before our first promotion? That's okay, we know how to be patient. But get your checkbooks ready if promotions are merit based because we'll work harder than anyone.

Working with a limited budget? All I have to say to that is "Food Budget: Ramen Noodles, Saltines and Tap Water."

Even more we know how to listen, move, read the faces of those we're talking to, treasure every networking moment, and leave our crap at the door.

So before anyone ever questions whether you failed because of your lack of Broadway experience, first and foremost, remind them that you EARNED a college degree, which is an achievement by itself.

And then tell them they should be so lucky to have been a theatre major.

Photo: USC School of the Dramatic Arts