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BWW Blog: Expanding Your Education

Here are courses that I recommend any actor take outside of their theatre major.

Early on in my college journey, I learned that conservatory-style education is not for everyone. In pursuing musical theatre, I just automatically assumed in my junior year of high school that I would need to audition for numerous schools, send in pre-screens, and attend live auditions in New York. However, later on in my college-searching career, I found that I have too many interests that I couldn't dream of giving up in addition to theatre. Ever since I was little, I have been a bookworm, writer, and historian.

After I realized that so many prominent Broadway and film actors didn't necessarily study theatre before rising to stardom (including Ben Platt, Laura Benanti, Timothee Chalamet, Sutton Foster, and more), I came up with a brand new plan for my collegiate career. While conservatory-style education has many wonderful things to offer, it isn't for me. I now study at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University and am fortunate enough to curate my own education. I am currently pursuing theatre, creative writing, and women's studies, and have taken wonderful classes in a variety of other subjects including history and psychology. I want to become a playwright and performer that can create change and leave my mark in this world via the arts. My aim is to be the metaphorical child of Lin Manuel Miranda and Joni Mitchell. Other inspirations of mine include Greta Gerwig and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In high school, I was once lucky enough to meet Glenn Close and the advice that she gave me as an aspiring actor was to "get a liberal arts education in college."

Although my singing, acting, and dancing classes have been highly beneficial and challenging, other classes have also shaped and expanded my mind both as a scholar and as an artist. I recommend that every actor take psychology, history, creative writing, gender & race Studies, and literary-based classes at some point during their time in college. I feel that understanding the human mind is an essential tool that every actor can use while doing necessary character work in preparation for a show. Additionally, having an understanding of gender and race studies will allow us to not only try our best to be anti-racists and anti-sexists (in pursuing education instead of ignorance), but it will also fuel our art. Moreover, I think taking courses in creative writing and literature will give us skills as actors to explicate and analyze scripts given to us, and allow us to have a better understanding of characters and the structure of plays.

Last semester, I took a Freud seminar, a musical theatre writing workshop, something to sing about: acting musical theatre, and more. This coming semester, I'm taking a playwriting class, a creative writing fiction class, a course about medieval European history, and more. All of my classes have fed my imagination and ignited a creative fire in my mind that I never dreamed of discovering. My knowledge of history, gender and race studies, psychology, and more has inspired me as both an aspiring playwright and an actress. I believe getting a well-rounded education will help me grow as both an individual and as an artist, and I think all actors should consider broadening their minds and embrace learning about more than one subject. I truly feel that the road to a career in theatre isn't a straight path but rather, a twisty, hard road that leads to success if you work hard and have faith. I truly feel that if you widen your knowledge and skillset and take a couple of classes outside of your dance, acting, and singing-heavy course load, you will benefit more than you could have ever imagined.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Maya Mehrara