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BWW Blog: My Temple University Experience

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Being a part of Temple University's theater program has been an absolute pleasure so far. From the friends that I've made to the professors I have worked with, there is no doubt in my mind that I made the correct decision in entering the world of theater, or at least taking the first step.

Theater in high school is different, not to say it is bad nonetheless, but there are more opportunities for everyone to act, you know most of the people you work with, and as time goes by in high school, your comfortability increases whether through gained confidence, knowing your castmates, or experience over time. That being said if it wasn't for high school theater, my first-level passion for this transformative art form would not have been born.

College is a huge step for many people. That even bigger step is figuring out what you want to study in college, but for me, it was pretty clear from my junior year of high school. I knew I wanted to study acting. Easier said than done though.

After two stressful weeks of auditions at various schools across the mid-Atlantic region, I came to audition at Temple. I wasn't going to audition immediately, but after doing college auditions for two weeks straight, I decided to throw in Temple's Acting Concentration at the end. This also is a testament to how inclusive their program is, meaning if you wanted to be a theater major with no concentration you can try out all various fields of the theater world without pinpointing one concentration allowing students to really find their field. I noticed a different vibe when I entered into Annenberg Hall and checked in. There were fewer people than I expected and I felt welcomed and not stressed out as I did during the last few weeks at other auditions. After a quick bathroom trip to practice my pieces, my name was called and I ventured onto the stage in Tomlinson Theater. I was nervous but also calm, I did my first monologue and then engaged in an incredibly stimulating conversation with the two professors there about why I chose the piece and what the piece's significance was. This hadn't happened at most places that I auditioned and it made me feel welcomed and valued.

In the fall I was nervous, as most new freshmen are, but slowly and surely I found my friends through classes and doing other activities, and I started to love the newfound freedom that college was bringing me. Not only that but I felt as though I was studying what I was meant to be studying.

My professors and the theater program in general made for a smooth transition into the program without ever overworking us. I came from the background of only performance in high school with minimal theater education in terms of my high school curriculum, so I found that the things I was learning were new and really helpful. My first acting professor stressed the importance of listening while acting, obviously, we all know to listen to our scene partners while doing a scene or performing, but this advice really helped me let go. I was in a new place and felt like I needed to be more than I was, but my professors helped me realize that perfection is never really achieved and that the best actor I could be was already there, still learning.

Within the first week of school, we were encouraged to audition for a play called New Voices, which was in affiliation with The Philadelphia Young Playwrights organization. Every year they collect about six student-written plays to perform at Temple. I ended up getting cast, and it was a fantastic way to start the fall. Working on this show was truly eye-opening and proved how fantastic the Temple Theatre community is. I worked with a small cast for only about a month and a half but during that short time, whether in rehearsal or leading up to our performances, we all learned so much about each other and created bonds and friendships that carry on to this day. I even got to know the kids in other plays very well, too. Once you are in a cast with someone, there is a tie to them like no other. That sense of family is created instantly and won't ever be broken, and I believe that's why it's always so hard to finish production, you won't know when this amazing group of people will get to meet again to do something as magnificent as what they have all just done.

I could tell early on that this was the case with all of Temple's productions. All cast and crew members felt so tight-knit and felt so like a family, and that is what makes our program stand out. Every Friday we have a required class called "Production Practicum," where all theatre majors gather in our theater. This is where announcements are made, where we have talkbacks after shows have taken place, and also where guest speakers from around the theater industry get to speak and share their knowledge about the world of theatre. Not only does practicum reinforce Temple Theatre's sense of community, but the advice that these artists from around Philadelphia and the U.S. give us as young up and coming artists is truly helpful and inspiring. Practicum allows our theater department to function as a whole.

March 13th was the day that we were told to move out of our dorms because campus would be closing due to COVID-19. While it wasn't completely a surprise, it was incredibly sad to know that pretty soon everyone would be on their own, and frankly, as a theater major, I never could have pictured doing my assignments from home and online. We had our last practicum in person and I could tell that tensions were high in the room, everyone was upset and nervous about what the future held for our theatre department. All of the professors reassured us that although this was a new challenge for us, they would do anything in their power to make the transition smooth and keep us on task. By the end of the meeting, we were cheering and thanking our professors for staying level headed despite this new challenge. Those last few classes in person were hard as well, none of us knew what to say except, goodbye, and hopefully see you soon.

Online classes proved to be somewhat difficult, but they gave me experiences that I will hold onto as a theatre artist. I got valuable one on one time with my professors to go over class assignments or monologues that we were working on which provided me with some of the best advice I could receive. I also learned how to properly self-tape my monologues which regardless of being in quarantine or not, is something that any actor needs to learn. We still had Practicum over Zoom too, and every week we would hear from a New Group of artists who reassured us that everything would work out and that we should stay strong at this time. They also gave us many activities to do to stay fresh as actors, whether yoga, other forms of expression, or even simple relaxation exercises.

Almost anyone you meet today will say "This is a crazy time we're living in," and while that point is true, we shouldn't forget the little, good moments of life. My first year at Temple proved to be one that I will never forget and taught me to appreciate the little things. The people we meet, the things we make, and those little day to day moments are more memorable than we may think. Though it may be hard to believe, art can be made anywhere, no matter the circumstance.

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