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BWW Blog: One Year Of Theatre School - Ten Life Lessons

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I began my first year studying theatre directing at Fordham University this past fall. In lieu of the last two months of school (alas, lost to COVID-19), I have utilized much of my newfound free time to think back on my year. Majoring in theatre directing, much of studying theatre means studying myself. Fordham's theatre program has pushed me to reflect on my own thought patterns, communication skills, and identity. This year, I've learned...

1. The promises you make to yourself matter.

If I tell myself I'm going to wake up early to finish a choreography sequence, I do it. If I say I'll meet with classmates for a late night rehearsal, I do it. Being someone I can rely on to follow through with my own goals, my time management has become second-nature and the scope of my projects can become more ambitious.

BWW Blog: One Year Of Theatre School - Ten Life Lessons
Photo by Emily Hoffert.

2. You always have more time in your day to work towards what you want.

... because the promises you make to yourself matter. I prioritize what gives me energy and purpose: theatre!

3. Get things done the right way, even if it's the more difficult way.

Skipping over small, seemingly meaningless steps in the theatrical process leaves room for mistakes and erodes the confidence of everyone in the room. It's always worth it to tie the perfect knot so your light cabling looks professional, or to take an extra few minutes to let your actors breathe before rehearsal. Nailing the small steps in your process shows your collaborators that you truly care about them.

BWW Blog: One Year Of Theatre School - Ten Life Lessons
Photo by Emily Hoffert.

4. Replace apologies with expressions of gratitude.

Never apologize for offering your presence, your ideas, or your input-instead, thank your colleagues for listening to you and making space for you. Assume your value in a group setting, and allow for others to appreciate you.

5. You can say no.

I learned that it's okay to be selective in accepting only the quality job offers within my program, by remembering I will still receive more offers in the future even if I am rejecting some opportunities now. Be thoughtful about your work choices; commit yourself only to projects that will either be enjoyable or help you grow (or both!).

BWW Blog: One Year Of Theatre School - Ten Life Lessons
Photo by Phoebe Ellman.

6. You can say yes.

On the other end of the spectrum, I learned to say yes to extremely ambitious projects by trusting my ability to follow through (I once learned a full length devised movement piece in twelve days)! You're allowed to be brave-that's what school is for!

7. Failure is thrilling.

The experience of failure not only allows me to reorient my approach to my work and discover new methods-failure also dulls my fear of taking theatrical risks. Recovering after a bad grade, a bad performance, or a heated rehearsal shows me that I am a resilient artist. Failure and errors are helpful, and they are ingrained in my process as a director.

8. Everyone has a story they're dying to tell.


BWW Blog: One Year Of Theatre School - Ten Life Lessons
Photo by Emily Hoffert.

9. Seek out (and nurture) the love in those around you.

It is worthwhile to take a breath in a meeting, a rehearsal, or class to acknowledge the passion that your collaborators carry with them in their work. As a director, it has been especially helpful for me to learn how to spot excitement about a particular story, design choice, or creative angle. We create our best, most vivid work when it is born of excitement and love.

10. Get out of the theatre.

Yes, you heard me. Theatrical choices and inspiration are born from life experience. If you never leave your college blackbox, never breathe fresh air, never speak to non-theatre friends and family... where will your life experience come from? If your instincts lead you to a break from theatre work, take it without guilt.

Because whether you're conscious of it or not, you are always learning. Whether you're buying a soft pretzel on the street,
or visiting your grandparents,
or watching a movie with your roommate,
or doing your laundry,
or looking at the stars,
or watching the news,
or trying not to text your ex-boyfriend,
or buying hand sanitizer at the local CVS,
or craving the feeling of a stage beneath your feet again,

I promise you, you are always learning.

You remain an artist - no matter where you are, and no matter what you're doing.

We'll be back at school in the blink of an eye. And I, for one, can't wait to see all of the new theatre we make when that day arrives!

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From This Author Student Blogger: Emily Hoffert