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…And became a college theatre dork

March 5, 2012

How most of us got bit by the acting bug and found ourselves standing in the spotlight was in high school, when we get cast as the lead in the musical or perhaps the time your aunt took you to go see a show and your life was never again the same. You started singing show tunes, tap-dancing in your sneakers on the sidewalk, preferring jazz hands to high fives—then you get to senior year and your last show finishes, you graduate and then what? If you’re anything like me, you do what the (title of show) song says: “So I bailed on my hometown, and became a college theatre dork”. Let me introduce myself, The Green Room Blog’s The College Theatre Dork!

I was fourteen when I realized I could major in theatre. My teacher brought me to a theatre conference at a local college where we were mistaken for a family wanting a tour of the campus, which sparked the initial discussion that people did major in theatre. When I announced my intentions, my parents were surprisingly accepting but in retrospect, my other ambition was to be a writer, so I was still going to be their penniless bum of a daughter, right? But I spent the next three years researching colleges—and wound up on the other side of the state in the best place I could possibly be right now. I’m studying Theatre (and minoring in Creative Writing) and I’ve been blogging as A College Theatre Dork since my first week of college, originally as an assignment for my freshman English class and I just kept going with it there and now here.

So do I sit around doing Shakespeare monologues and musical theatre all day? No. When I was a freshman (a year ago), I took Theatre Major Seminar, which all the freshmen/transfers have to take their first semester. On our last day of class, my professor asked us:

So, why do you do theatre? This is a career that maybe two of the fifty-two of you here are going to succeed in. It’s what we call in this business a dead kitten; it’s cute, but it doesn’t work! There’s no money, people don’t want to see the shows anymore…we can’t even sell enough tickets for us to do two musicals a year. So why are you here?

We had a lot of different answers. At the end of our first semester, some people realized this wasn’t the right place for them and were transferring and others decided to change their major to Music and English. I raised my hand to answer: “DEFINE SUCCESS.”  I said more than that, but nothing as important. A year later, halfway through my sophomore year, I think I’m becoming the success freshman me would have wanted to be. In this past year alone, I worked as a street busker performing Commedia d’ell Arte; I wrote my first play for a 24 Hour Show; tried worked behind and in front of the camera; now I am working for the first time as an Assistant Stage Manager in two of my department’s biggest shows; learning tai chi, dance improv, stage makeup; I got a summer internship with a theatre company, an upcoming performance in a movement theatre piece; planning to produce (and possibly direct or act) my first show and now blogging for The Green Room Blog!

So that’s my part in our ensemble, that headstrong youngster who meets their Yoda and starts training to someday be a Jedi. Well, I’m majoring in Theatre and that hope of doing it in the real world someday suddenly has a date on my calendar. Join me in my endeavors of learning how to be professional?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2012 11:24 am

    Thanks College Theatre Dork (cool blogger name, BTW.) I like your enthusiasm and go-getter-ness (I just made up that word.) I also like your answer “define success” to your professor’s sad, sad “lecture.” While it’s good to have some reality about the rigors of this business, it seem so sad that a professor was trying to stamp out the fire and enthusiasm of a group of eager freshmen, who could be the generation who can turn things around in the business. I’m so glad you have already learned to tune out the negative and find your way through with a great attitude and love of theatre.

    PS, I’m going to re-write your professor’s comments, if you don’t mind:

    So, why do you do theatre?
    (I’m so happy you have found theatre to be your calling)

    This is a career that maybe two of the fifty-two of you here are going to succeed in.
    (It’s one of the most challenging but most rewarding ways you can live your life, and many of you will find that you can’t be happy in any other career.)

    It’s what we call in this business a dead kitten; it’s cute, but it doesn’t work!
    (Theatre has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, and though it can be economically unstable, it’s in a continued process of change… your generation has the awesome opportunity to make theatre not just a vital artistic, but a vital economic force in this country again.)

    There’s no money, people don’t want to see the shows anymore…we can’t even sell enough tickets for us to do two musicals a year.
    (Just like every industry, theatre goes through up and down periods. Luckily as artist, we are resilient, resourceful and imaginative and it is with these resources that we can create amazing work, get it in front of audiences, and if you want to, sell many many tickets. Because you have the tools to make anything possible.. you are artists!)

    So why are you here?
    (I’m so glad you are here.)

  2. The Practical Artist permalink
    March 5, 2012 11:50 am

    I got a similar lecture my freshman year of college: “Look to your right. Look to your left. These people most likely will not be here by the time of graduation.” Unfortunately, he was right. The two people I was sitting between dropped the major and theatre altogether. But you know what? I’m still here, I graduated, and now I’m “working.” [after all: “It’s only work if you’d rather be doing something else.”]

    I love how you’re delving into the many different aspects of theatre, I look forward to reading more from you. Welcome to the Room, young Padawan!

    • The College Theatre Dork permalink
      March 5, 2012 4:44 pm

      Thank you both! As far as the lecture went, I feel it had it’s purpose as it at the very least, encouraged me to be one of the two out of less-than-fifty-two-in-our-class-now. Hopefully all that go-getter-ness is getting me somewhere 🙂 . May I successfully graduate from Padawan to Jedi!

      • March 6, 2012 8:56 am

        I think, in a bit of a twisted way, that’s probably what he was trying to do. Inspire the ones who will make it and intimidate the ones who won’t. Good for you for being one of us! 🙂

  3. March 6, 2012 12:26 am

    Welcome! So excited to have you! It’ll be great having an “in training” perspective. I’m sure it will take me back to the good ol’ days. Go get ’em lil one!

  4. March 6, 2012 8:57 am

    So glad to have you! And I love the [title of show] reference — I sing that song at auditions sometimes 🙂

  5. The Reflective Artist permalink
    March 7, 2012 7:54 am

    Welcome! So excited to follow you along!

  6. California Triple-Threat permalink
    March 7, 2012 9:18 pm

    I love how you got your name! It is also one of my audition songs!
    I know you will accomplish great things!

  7. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    March 7, 2012 10:36 pm

    I feel so welcomed 🙂 Now to write a second blog post…

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