Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Do You Do with a BA in Theatre?

For the next two weeks, Alexandra, one of our talented Overtures students, is taking over our blog. Check back for daily updates!

Overtures students during a Tap class.
Monday, June 17
On our first morning of Overtures, group introductions included the standard answers to “who are you,” “where are you from” and “what’s your background”. A few of the college graduates in the group, sounding only slightly jaded and world-weary, claimed diplomas declaring theater or, more precisely, “glorified placemats”.  Quick to add a litany of goals and hopes for near-future successes that would change our feelings towards those fancy pieces of paper, we also recognized we had perhaps skipped a few steps along the way and still had much to learn.

Enter “The Business of Show Business," a class with Matt Gardiner, Signature's Associate Artistic Director. Following a second go at Karma’s ballet class (two and a half hours of strong technical breakthroughs, if you could make it through the warm up!), half our company pulled out headshots and resumes for an insider’s scoop. Feeling like a high school English student again, dreading the red correction pen, I readied myself for circles and x’s all over the 8”x10” page. After all, as young actors entering an often trying industry, we are all too familiar with the stories of bags of trashed headshots in the hallways of New York’s casting agencies, auditions gone horribly wrong and many young actors simply giving up to follow a “more sensible” career path.

And yet, there was no scary red pen. Sifting through copious notes this evening I find myself perusing insightful questions from a fellow company member, a funny anecdote from our Matt, a “NO” in all-caps followed by several exclamation points next to possible outfit choices for an audition (perhaps a little retail therapy is in my future). And tucked away in a margin are the words “persistence” and “respect”.
Overtures students warm up at the start of dance class.
Persistence has helped bring many of us to Overtures. Daily persistence is needed in our fledgling careers, especially when the industry is at its most unforgiving. Persistence will undoubtedly lift us over the next two weeks when we are at our most vulnerable, learning new skills and breaking down old habits in pursuit of our artistic goals. But persistence must be countered with respect. Respect for the industry and the incredible professionals we have the opportunity to learn from over these next two weeks. Respect for our fellow company members who have just as many questions as I may have . And especially respect for ourselves and those 8”x10”s that really aren’t all too horrible, those turn outs that even after only two days are already better, those discoveries we continue to make in voice sessions on songs that were intentionally picked for us to be challenges.

So, what do you do with a BA in Theater? Proudly list it right at the top of the “Training” section of your resume, just above your “Special Skills” and right below your growing list of “Theater Credits.”

Don't miss the Overtures Showcase! Saturday, June 29 at 11 AM in the MAX Theatre. Admission is free and seating is on a first come, first serve basis.


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