BWW Blog: (Im)Proving Yourself
I think we all know as theatre artists, that an important part of our craft is paying our dues. We all start out with our first audition, or maybe helping out a local theatre backstage, and through hard work, experience, and time, we figure out what we want to do, and get the opportunities we strive for. Every potential lead needs to cut their teeth working their way up to it. The great thing about the art form, when it works, is that you need to prove yourself. An extremely challenging yet rewarding task for any artist.
In the past month, I've started my Junior year in college, and my first year at Jacksonville University. I transferred into their BFA Musical Theatre program and proving myself has never been so prevalent. I came from a two-year college, in which I knew everybody. It wasn't very competitive either. Now I'm in a world unlike I have ever known, meeting an entirely different group of people, and starting over! Every day I am working 200% to prove myself so I can make the most out of my two years here.
Part of this is asking about any opportunity I can think of. When I get out of school I want to perform and direct. I started emailing over the summer and today I find myself working on four projects, in and out of school in addition to working two jobs! This semester is going to be transformative for me as an artist, student, and overall human.
Here's some advice: try like hell to not do it alone. Speaking from a position wherein I have a great support system consisting of my Fiancée, my family, and the friends I left when I transferred. I can still say with absolute certainty that my first day on campus was among the loneliest days I have ever had. It felt absolutely hopeless. Many aspects of working in theatre involve hard work to get opportunity, but it's also entirely necessary to put in hard work on the self. That first day when I felt low and felt like I didn't really have anybody who I could reach out to, putting in the creative work was more and more difficult.
By the end of my first week I had started the foundation of what may be a new facet of a support system in what I can clearly see are going to be new friendships. Since then I have had more motivation to try and succeed. I think artists are very needy creatures. We need audiences, we need collaborators, but most importantly we need to prove ourselves to both demographics. We are engines and that is our fuel. Or oil. Or whatever goes into an engine.
I think the biggest takeaway I have received from my first week on campus is that the relationship between an individual, and the art they create is one of the symbiotic nature. In other words, we get out of the art we create, what it gets from us. If we don't practice self-care, and work on ourselves as individuals, our art will suffer from it, and thus we won't be fulfilled by our art. It's another one of life's cycles. I spent the majority of the last year learning how to center myself and find my grounding as an actor. It has since helped in many of my artistic endeavors, but what I, and I think many artists need to work on is how to ground ourselves as individuals.
I knew that my education would help me grow as an artist, creator, and collaborator, but I was not prepared in my first week to grow as a person. Being the stubborn Taurus that I am, I'm resistant to change and sometimes that includes growth. If I learned these lessons in my first week, I am eager to see what lessons lie ahead in the next two years.