BWW Blog: Building Something That's Gonna Outlive Us!
College can be quite daunting. Finding a place where you are meant to be can be extremely challenging. For me, it was all of the above.
I was fortunate enough to know from a very young age what I wanted to do in life, and that was to be an actor. I started visiting universities my Junior year of high school. When I tell you I looked everywhere, I mean it! The amount of schools and programs I researched throughout my Junior and Senior years were endless! I tried hard to find somewhere that would benefit me in all aspects, and to find somewhere I could truly grow.
Once it came to my senior year, I had to start winding down my options and meticulously choose where to audition. Audition season was one of the best times of my life, yet one of the most draining times of my life. I felt like I was on a tour of the Midwest! Every single weekend from January through the end of February that year, I was auditioning for a different school. Not only was I auditioning for schools separately, hailing from Ohio, I also attended the Ohio Unified Auditions. If you do not know what those are, unified auditions are where you audition in front of a group of schools all at one time. In this case, it was schools from Ohio, and select surrounding states. I honestly auditioned for the fun of it, not thinking too much into it or expecting much to come out of it. To my surprise, I ended up receiving 18 callbacks. One school in particular I had never heard of caught my eye immediately. Niagara University won me over that day, and I was convinced I would end up there. And guess what...I DID!
Now a Sophomore pursuing a BFA in Theatre Performance, I am happy to call Niagara my home. The training that I have only received within my first year inspires me, and gives me hope for the years ahead of me. However, due to the current climate in this Nation it has forced me to reflect on myself and my university.
There are some things I feel are lacking within my department, and I am sure lots of other students can relate. In order to emerge as the artists we are encouraged to become, we need to be given ALL the tools that will help us. It is one thing to build a resume. It is another thing to build up humanity.
The world is changing. People are more aware of the injustices that are plaguing us as a nation. Theatre is a reflection of the world around it. As I did more self reflection on my own privilege, I realized the theatre I am submerged in does not emulate the rest of the world. As a rising theatre artist, this has become a problem for me and others within my theatre department.
Niagara University's theatre department is predominantly white. It took our department roughly four weeks to come out with a statement regarding the ways in which they were willing to correct the injustices that occur within their own department, but only after a former student called them out on what areas the student felt our department was lacking.
To the student who stood up, I thank you, I hear you, and I respect you. You inspire me to do better, and to stand up myself when issues need to be corrected.
We as students need to continue to keep speaking out. Our voices do matter. If we are not receiving the education we need to instill the artistry within us, we must speak up. I truly believe, especially at Niagara, our professors do care about us and want what is best for their students. It is imperative we communicate when we see issues.
Art changes the world. We need to be completely equipped with everything we need by the time we graduate in order to step out into the world, and be the artists we need to be.
I encourage you all to take a step back and reflect on your own theatre departments. How can you do better? What conversations do you need to have? If you feel like something is missing, or your department does not have the representation it needs, do not be afraid to ask why! We pay these professors to teach us, so tell them to teach what we are not being taught. Change will happen, but only if we continue to speak up and fight for it.
When our time is up, will we have done enough?