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BWW Blog: 5 Ways to Pursue Theatre This Summer

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Summer has always been a weird time for me, even before there was a pandemic. I love having a break from the stress of school, but something about the lack of routine sometimes puts me in a negative mindset. I either feel I'm not doing enough or that I'm not taking the time to get the rest I need. This has always been true, but quarantine has brought this to the forefront of my attention. In some ways, it has been a blessing in disguise. I've realized that I haven't really taken advantage of summer as a time for growth. Now more than ever, I have been seeking ways to progress in my theatre training and to stay connected to theatre. I'm not always perfect, but I have been better about finding what works for me and actually following through. So, without further ado, here are five tips that have helped me pursue theatre this summer.

1. Watch theatre in whatever way you can.

We all know that there is a limited amount of theatre for viewing at home. However, especially recently, there are some options. Take a look at the streaming services you're already subscribed to and see what's available. Xfinity has some of the more classic movie musicals. Disney+ has "Hello, Dolly". "Annie", "Newsies", and is soon to have "Hamilton". If you prefer some of the live musicals, The Shows Must Go On! is a YouTube channel that will periodically put up the full production for a couple days. You also should look at sites like Playbill and Broadway World for information about shows that might be available to watch for a short period of time, like they did with "Bandstand" and "Falsettos".

2. If you're able, try to take some classes.

At the start of quarantine, the Broadway Collective released a study hall program that allowed people to watch a few of their online masterclasses. I took full advantage of the opportunity and even paid for the month-long program (unfortunately a limited edition), which included feedback from Broadway actors. Even though I'm unable to continue with their program year-round, it was still a really incredible experience. There are also many performers who are teaching virtual dance or voice classes right now. Virtual Dance Center has classes starting at $10. I've taken multiple classes with some amazing dancers that I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do otherwise. Performers often post about these classes on their Instagram pages, so be on the lookout for any you might want to take. You can also take classes a little closer to home, even if you can't do them in person. I'm currently doing singing lessons over FaceTime. Check out local studios and see what they have to offer. While virtual classes aren't everyone's thing, there are many great opportunities for classes right now.

3. Work on your own.

Not everyone has the ability to take formal classes. However, you can still work on your craft. Read a play and choose a monologue to work on. Even if you don't have a specific audition to prepare for, you can still find a piece to rehearse for the future. Find a song you like to sing and practice singing it. Stretch on your own or even choreograph your own dance. If you're a designer, find a play you like and do a rendering for something in the show. You can even look on YouTube for classes or tips on whatever you want to work on. While doing things on your own is less structured and requires more self-discipline, it's still a way to keep working on your skills and growing.

4. Read.

There are some great books related to theatre. I'm currently reading "Letters to a Young Artist" by Anna Deavere Smith and am finding all kinds of valuable advice. Maybe find a biography of your favorite theatre professional and start there. Search for a book about a specific production or about acting techniques. Look up articles about what's currently going on in the industry. Read a play that you haven't read before. It's not the same as actually doing theatre, but you may find helpful thoughts and ideas. Even reading non-theatre related books can be useful for looking at methods of storytelling and characterization (not to mention they're just fun to read).

5. Find the joy.

Some days you're not going to want to work, and that's okay. We can't expect ourselves to be productive all the time. If you never take time to rest, something you love can become a chore. Step away and just live life. Take time to be a human being. Experience the world, and when you're ready, let it inform your art. Even when you are actively creating, find the joy. Remember why you fell in love with theatre in the first place. Sing your heart out without worrying about hitting the notes. Dance without worrying about what it looks like. One of the most cathartic things I did all summer was dancing full out to "Livin' It Up on Top" at one in the morning. I didn't care about being perfect, I just had fun. Give yourself permission to simply enjoy what you love. Yes, technique and hard work are important, but don't miss out on the whole point of why you do what you do. Sometimes reconnecting with that joy can be the most important thing you can do for your art.

This list is a representation of what I have found is useful for me. Take from it what you will. Pick and choose your favorites and even experiment with your own ideas. Sometimes even the act of identifying ways to stay connected with theatre can help encourage you to put it to action. We're all different and some things that may seem simple and productive for some may feel overwhelming and draining for others. However, when I'm feeling down this is usually a good place for me to start and I hope it can be that for you too. All the world's a stage, so make this summer's show the best it can be.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Laura Johnson