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Student Blog: Looking Back

I've learned a lot about myself as an artist this year, and I'm taking a look back to see how I've grown.

Student Blog: Looking Back

Hey BroadwayWorld!

This past week, I finished up school for the year. I'm now officially a Junior. My college experience has been particularly odd. I spent more of my college career on Zoom than I did in person. It's been really rough. However, in all that time, I never stopped creating. During COVID-19, I learned a lot about myself, my craft, and my process.

I'm a writer, so I'm used to working alone. When everything shut down, I saw it as an opportunity to write. And that's exactly what I did. I'm about halfway through writing a new musical, and I'm hoping to have it done by the end of the summer. I won't ramble too much about the specifics, but it's been a really helpful way for me to deal with all of my complicated feelings as we moved through the pandemic. Since writing is a solitary act, I didn't really notice much of a difference. At first.

Both through my classes and through conversations with friends, I've been reminded just how collaborative writing can be. And I don't just mean writing with other people. I've gotten a lot of really great feedback from my peers as they look over my work. I've also gotten to look over some of my close friends' work and give them my thoughts and advice. After a year of creating in solitude, I've forgotten how essential this exchange of ideas is. It helps to fuel creativity in an easy and low-stakes way. This year I've been continuously reminded that giving and receiving feedback, as well as simply communicating your ideas to other artists, is essential to the process of creating.

Believe it or not, I have also found myself performing a bit more than normal. I'm a born and bred stage actor. When I'm on a stage, I tend to chew the scenery and play to the back of the house. However, that didn't quite work on Zoom. I was forced to recalibrate my acting style to account for the camera being two feet from my face. It's been a marvelous learning experience, and definitely left an impact on me as an actor.

Recently, I was talking with a professor about film projects. Neither of us had been particularly interested in working on film. We're theatre people. However, during lockdown, theatre and film started to blend. It became a necessity and as much as I love live theatre, I don't hate this marriage of forms either. It makes the act of creation a lot more accessible. It's a great way to cut through the red tape that comes with mounting a theatrical production. Even if you just have an iPhone, you can make something. You're the boss, not the producers or the investors or the board members. You. The best music I listened to this year wasn't made in a studio, it was done by the other students in my songwriting class using GarageBand.

It's also a lot easier to create something on your own. As much as I love collaboration, it can be hard to wrangle a lot of folks together. But the film/theatre hybrid allows you to create something independently, short and sweet. This dawned on me as I looked back on my output this year. I gained a lot of confidence, and I found myself taking center and actually singing my own songs, something I never would have dreamed of doing last March. It's given me the courage to combine my love for writing and acting, and start creating projects that allow me to do both.

Despite all I've learned from this experience, and how much I've missed theatre, I'm still feeling hesitant. Hundreds of thousands of people have died, and despite how the world is moving on, the pandemic is not over. On top of that, there are systemic failings to be addressed. As everything opens back up, we need to ensure that things don't go back to "business as usual", because "business as usual" was not working. There's a lot of work to do. I'm hoping that we can take the lessons we've learned from the past year and use them to create a more inclusive and welcoming artistic community.

Sincerely,

Me


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