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BWW Blog: No Experience Necessary - The Stage is for Anyone

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BWW Blog: No Experience Necessary - The Stage is for Anyone

Whether you have been performing and designing forever or just started in college, you are welcome in the theatre. Everyone has a place in the theatre. There are no requirements to be an artist on stage or behind the curtain. You just need to have the desire and determination to create a work of art. This is precisely why anyone with an interest in the performing arts should explore theatrical opportunities in college.

When I arrived on campus at the University of Pennsylvania, I already knew I wanted to join theatre companies and perform. I ended up auditioning for multiple productions and groups during an anxiety filled week. Over my first year of college, I performed the musical Freaky Friday with a children's theatre, performed an experimental version of Into the Woods and rehearsed for Orpheus in the Underworld with a light opera company, and joined the board of another theatre group that I was rehearsing the musical 9 to 5 with. Although my prior experience definitely helped me in the audition rooms, I knew it was not a prerequisite for joining college theatre. I made plenty of friends who had never performed before, yet are incredibly talented. College theatre groups look for people who have the drive to collaborate and create an incredible experience both on and off stage.

If you have an interest in theatre, there should be nothing stopping you from acting on it. Audition and join any group that truly interests you and allows you to follow or discover your passions. The worst outcome of auditioning or interviewing for a technical position is being told you have not made the cut. Even actors and designers with years of experience face rejection, but they simply move on to look for new opportunities. Do not let any fear of rejection prevent you from trying something new.

In fact, many college theatre groups search for people to train in lighting, costuming, set building, prop design, and other technical elements. At Penn, many theatre groups offer tech newbies a mentor to teach them essential skills and tricks to let their creativity shine. I had little experience stage managing, but I stage managed a short one act play this winter. I also have never produced anything yet, but this year I will have the opportunity to assistant produce a play. I never thought I would be given the chance to do any of this in college because I only have experience performing. However, college is a time to explore new ideas and develop new skills. Theatre groups embrace this belief.

Two of my closest friends from college studying in STEM disciplines had little to no experience in the theatre before college. They knew they enjoyed the performing arts, but never dedicated much time to seeing how they could make theatre a part of their lives. After a year of exploring the technical side of theatre, they can no longer imagine their college experiences without it. Rising sophomores Aidan Yoo and Oralia Quinones, pictured above spray painting the set of the musical Urinetown, shared with me their perspectives on joining theatre in college. If you are afraid to audition or apply for a technical position, look to these quotes for inspiration.

Oralia Quinones: "Joining theatre in college was the way in which I felt connected to the Penn community and [it was] a safe place to unwind from all my academics. I met a lot of interesting people, learned from my peers, and was able to help create something so wonderful. As a musical lover who had some experience in theatre from high school, doing theatre in college seemed natural. I loved every hour I spent in the shop building the set. I learned so much about myself, the process for making a successful production, and about teamwork. What was even more amazing was that you were not limited to a single production, rather [you] can participate in multiple year round. By default, going to Broadway productions and knowing how much hard work goes on behind the scenes made me appreciate the function more."

Aidan Yoo: "I joined theatre because I have always had an appreciation for the performing arts, but I never had the courage, time, or support to try to participate in anything remotely related to the arts. I also never realized that theatre was so much more than just performing until I got to college. If I'm being completely honest, I initially joined theatre because I really was trying to find a group of friends and a lot of people I knew were already in theatre. It helped that I had technical experience from high school that I could apply to tech stuff in the productions. Although it was a bit awkward for me at first, I really fell in love with the group because we were all so different, but we were a family. I felt so comfortable around the company. I also got to explore a creative side of me that I hadn't really had the chance to explore before. Joining theatre really helped me put myself out there and discover more about myself."

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From This Author Student Blogger: Blake Velick