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BWW Blog: Monica Furman - It's the Laaaaast Midnight!

Well, not really. It's the last summer--before I graduate college.

I am two weeks away from beginning my senior year at Chapman University in Orange, California as a BFA Theatre Performance major. I'm so excited for this year but I'm also a little afraid of finishing this journey four years in the making, which is why I thought I'd chronicle my rollercoaster ride to the finish line through blogging. I'm going to write about it all: Theatre Projects, school and regional productions, as well as tips on surviving (and thriving!) in a BFA program within a liberal arts university setting, which is much different from a conservatory BFA.

For my last summer of freedom (*cue canned laughter*), I decided to broaden my experiences outside of my theatrical comfort zone. I believe that artists need to give back to the community that nourishes them, houses them, and let's not forget--sees their shows.

I spent six weeks volunteering for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) with Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) in NYC (where I'm originally from). Let's break it down a little, since I threw a very name-heavy sentence at you: the IRC helps refugees "survive, recover, and gain control of their future" and ASTEP provides arts programming to underprivileged youth. Both global organizations teamed up to create RYSA, a six-week summer school/camp hybrid, so young refugees know the down-low come September when they enter school. I co-taught Lower School Visual Arts and there is nothing cuter than seeing little kids learn English through art. I highly recommend checking out both organizations if you're passionate about helping others through the arts.

In between volunteering, I've also been doing a lot of what I'll call "artistic feeding of the soul." Basically, keeping up with the occasional tap, ballet, and fitness class (thanks Mark Morris, BDC, and Breakin Boundaries!), reading plays at the Drama Bookshop and the New Dramatists, and seeing lots and lots and lots of shows. Even though I have not performed this summer as many times as I would've liked, I've invested a sizeable chunk of time in giving myself more tools and resources for when I do perform (because that time is coming and it's coming fast).

The next time I blog, I will most likely be in California so before I sign off from my incredibly humid corner of Brooklyn, I'd like to leave a book recommendation. It's the perfect book to read for busy creative theatre people who are always on the go. My friend Katie gifted it to me last holiday season and I still haven't finished it because I don't want it to end! Innovation in Five Acts: Strategies for Theatre and Performance is a compilation of short essays edited by Caridad Svich and published by the Theatre Communications Group. Each essay is not only a nugget of theatrical wisdom, whether you're writing, directing, creating, acting or establishing a theatre company, but also includes a small biography of each author at the end. Basically, you get great advice or a mind-blowing concept for theatre in addition to information about contacting the author! I think this is especially important if you are an upcoming or recent graduate and are looking for internships and apprenticeships in theatre. What a better opening line on your cover letter than mentioning how much you loved their article in this book!

I hope you check out any of the resources and organizations I mentioned. Feel free to contact me and tell me your thoughts! Have you created something this summer? I'd love to hear about it.

Chapman University's Department of Theatre produced Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice last season, which I was fortunate to be a part of. From L to R: Natasha Gualy as Loud Stone, Caroline Hale as Big Stone, and Monica Furman as Little Stone. Photo by Dale Dudeck.

Knocking on Shakespeare's door in Stratford-upon-Avon. Thanks to Chapman's London Theatre Tour (a course offered almost every year), I earned credit towards my theatre degree while exploring the best of live entertainment across the pond!

My professor, Dr. Jocelyn L. Buckner, visited New York this summer and we got the chance to see Small Mouth Sounds off-Broadway!

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From This Author Guest Blogger: Monica Furman