BWW Blog: If You're Early You're On Time, If You're On Time You're Late, If You're Late…
7:36am. I board the bus to go to class. My hair is a mess and my face is bare, but when you oversleep, the goal is just to get out the door as soon as possible. 7:41am: the time my bus driver actually leaves the stop. Knowing that there are six stops before I get off, I try to detangle the ends of my hair with my fingers and finally tie my shoes. It is 7:50am when the bus gets to its third stop, and impatient as I am, I decide to get off and walk to the arts campus, thinking, "With how slow this bus is going, it would be faster if I walked." 7:52am and my feet hit the ground, booking it through the park and across the bridge to the furthest possible point on campus from my apartment. 7:58am and I finally get to the arts campus. 7:59am and I'm now running toward my classroom, and when the clock hits 8:00am, I open the squeaky door to the dance studio for my acting course. I've already been marked late.
UC Irvine's Drama Department has this fun little policy that if you're absent twice, your grade drops a?" of a letter grade (A+ to A, A to A-, etc.) and two tardies count as one absence. You're officially tardy the second the clock strikes the hour and you're not already in the room, and if you're a person who rolls into class 1-2 minutes late on most days, you'll fail the class in about a week. Some professors are more strict about it than others. If you ask any drama major here, I'm sure they will be able to tell you about a TA or professor that gives a grace period of a couple minutes at the beginning of each class. For me, the graduate student teaching my acting course takes roll at 7:59am. I'm usually ridiculously early to everything, but even I scoffed at how extreme this policy seemed. You're late if you are in the classroom at 8:00am? According to the person who determines my final grade: absolutely.
While I was first upset about getting marked late, I soon understood just how important punctuality is. That day, we were rehearsing the scenes we had been working on for the past week, and normally, that lesson plan wouldn't even have phased me. I knew my lines, my scene partner and I had repeatedly gone over blocking, and for the past few class periods, we had been fine tuning small details. While I was working with my him that day, however, I found myself flustered and lacking concentration. Frustrated and embarrassed, I apologized to him several times for "something being a little off with me today" and asking if we could start again until I got it right. I realized then that usually- when I'd arrive early- I'd take time to listen to music, clear my head, and get myself prepared for class. Without that time, I was now tripping over lines, forgetting blocking, and making silly mistakes.
Arriving early gives actors the necessary time to prepare and therefore, be more successful; punctuality gives confidence and allows ample preparation for whatever class, audition, rehearsal, or performance you are going to. While everyone has a different way of getting ready, I think we can all agree that whatever the routine is, we need time to actually do it. If you're rushed and don't have time to get grounded and focused, it truly does have the potential to impact your performance. I now see why tardiness just isn't an option.
For the next class period, I hopped on the bus at 7:21am. I arrived in front of that same dance studio (strolling, not sprinting) at 7:50am and popped in my headphones to listen to my favorite playlist while I drank some water and took off my sneakers. The difference of 10 minutes changed the entire flow of the class for me, and I can genuinely promise that I will do everything in my power to never be late to another drama class again, even if it means resisting the urge to hit the snooze button.