BWW Blog: The Baggage Actors Carry
As musical theatre majors, we basically live multiple lives in one day. Our classes are unlike any other major in terms of daily requirements. Those requirements include not only an extreme amount of emotional and physical stamina, but also an exorbitant amount of stuff. My book bag contains my life and universe and without it I would fail my courses.
As musical theatre majors most of us take dance, acting, and voice lessons while also taking regular human college courses. This means that I have to carry multiple changes of clothes, different types of dance shoes, binders of music as well as "normal" items like notebooks, textbooks, and a computer with me at all times. I also take a stage makeup course so I keep an entire makeup kit with me. It is also pertinent that MT majors carry snacks and a water bottle because the design of our schedules usually prevents us from eating at normal hours.
With that being said, at this point I can't imagine my life without making multiple "costume changes" throughout the day. All of the items that we carry with us physically are included with the many facets that we carry with us mentally. As actors we are charged with accessing so many different cubbies in our brains in one single day that the weight of our emotions must be brought with us to class on a regular basis. Our emotional baggage and attentiveness must be brought along with the many scripts and character journals we lug across campus.
While carrying so much stuff on my back might not be helping my posture for ballet class, it is a reminder to me of the pressure we carry as storytellers. This is not always negative pressure; however, there should always be a heavy purposeful force in everything we do because as actors we are held responsible for storytelling. The stuff we as MT majors carry has more meaning than the things non-performers carry. For example, everything we utilize is used for the end goal of creating art. Even our pencils, while still being bought from Target, allow us to write notes that enable our performances to succeed. When we are successful we change people and expose them to other worlds besides their everyday lives.
I know that what I am saying is probably very existential, but I am a performer. It also should make every single MT major feel overwhelmingly proud of the importance of our college experience because even our sweaty dance clothes have just helped us contribute to the community of artists and creativity. So as I pack my backpack full of the many lives and experiences I get to inhabit as a performer, I know that all of my back pain is worth the outcome of positively changing the world around me.