I hope you’re all doing well, friends!
I’m particularly excited about this week’s post because it is centered around one of my greatest passions: THEATRE! For anyone new here who may not know, theatre is not only one of my passions, it’s what I hope to pursue professionally! I’ve been dancing and performing in theatre for as long as I can remember and last year, I received my B.A. in Musical Theatre from DeSales University! *whoop whoop*
Two months before I was set to graduate, perform in my senior showcase, start work with a professional theatre company, and hit the ground running in the theatre industry, the whole world shut down. Broadway shut down, and it has been shut down until, well, now. Fortunately, things for individuals in the performing arts industry are FINALLY starting to look up and some theatre is set to start happening slowly but surely all over the country.
You might be thinking “wow. a year is a long time to go without work in your field” or “wow. how do you even keep that passion alive?” All good questions, my friend. And the truthful answer? It’s been hard as hell. Beyond hard, really. I don’t even think there is a word in the dictionary yet to describe what artists have been through in the last year+. But armed with resilience and many, MANY years’ worth of armor built up to fight rejection, we persevered, and we continue to do so every. damn. day.
While it’s been hard and I’ve had many days where I contemplate changing career paths completely and the first note of my favorite cast album brings me to tears and I have to turn it off because it’s too much to bear, on the flip side, I have tried really hard to keep my love, craft, and skills alive and thriving! Now, if you’re a creative reading this and you’re like “Angela, I haven’t done a damn thing and I DID change career paths,” then I want you to know that what you have/have not done does not make you any less of a creative. Every creative individual has processed and gone through this journey in their own way; there is no right or wrong way to do it. I applaud you for simply making it to this point.
Today, I want to share with you some ways in which I’ve kept my craft alive and some tools/people/groups I’ve connected with to help me do so! Here are some ways I’ve kept theatre alive in my life!
Dance From Home
I’ve written about my experience with Dance From Home before, and if you’ve read any of my Monthly Minute posts since November, you know that I am a BIG fan of their programming and mission. I can’t even really recall how or when exactly I stumbled across the DFH or Megan Bowen’s (the owner and CEO) Instagram pages, but I started out doing a free 14-day challenge, and the rest is history!
When Megan’s programming switched from individual classes/small class packages to a monthly membership, I wasn’t sure if myself and my wallet would be ready to make the transition, but I am SO glad I took a leap of faith!
I’ve been a member of DFH’s Ensemble Membership since the beginning of 2021 and I can’t even begin to describe what I’ve gained from this program. A little breakdown of what a week in the membership looks like: Monday/Wednesday are choreography classes (with different instructors throughout the month) and Tuesday/Thursday are Broadway Dance Cardio classes to a playlist of Broadway tunes (yes, they are themed!). In choreography classes, half the combo is taught Monday and it is finished and elaborated on Wednesday. Megan also recently added back Dance Cardio classes on Saturday mornings as part of the new Dance Cardio Club Membership (these weekend classes are also included in the Ensemble Membership package).
Whether you are a dancer and want that choreo class or you’re simply looking for the cardio, DFH has a package for everyone. To be explicit like Megan would want me to be, these programs are not designed for weight loss. Sure, weight loss may be a wonderful added benefit to joining, but that isn’t the purpose. The main purpose is to get the community reconnecting with their bodies and their love for musical theatre through these means!
AND, in case you weren’t already sold, every month DFH hosts one Masterclass Workshop with a Broadway Professional! We’ve worked with people from Kiss Me, Kate, Six, Hamilton, and April is….WICKED! You can get more info and sign up for the workshop on April 20th HERE!
The DFH programming has helped me keep up with my dancing abilities, and it has also really helped me learn to embrace my body and my movement. It’s taught me to be less of a perfectionist as a dancer, and I feel so much more connected to my body which in turn makes me feel more confident as a dancer. The cardio classes have helped me build and maintain stamina and strength so I can feel ready to go when theatre comes back in full force!
Monologue Consults with Shaun Leisher
If you’re a theatre artist, I’m sure you can relate when I say monologues are a b*tch to find. I still can’t seem to understand why it’s so hard to find really great monologues but it’s hard, nonetheless. Sometimes, you just have to turn to the professionals! If you’re anything like me and you’ve spent the pandemic searching for great material to no avail, I highly recommend calling up Shaun Leisher! Shaun is a Philadelphia-based dramaturg, producer and arts education advocate. While I haven’t actually met Shaun in person yet (lol, the pandemic life), he and I have many, many mutual friends and by the grace of God and the internet, we connected via social media!
Shaun offers quite an incredible service: after a 30-minute phone call with him, he will hand select about 3 monologues that suit your abilities and the artistic attributes you want to highlight. Boom. That easy. Shaun and I had an enriching 30-minute phone call and in a super quick turnaround time, he presented me with a handful of incredibly specific new material to add to my book that I truly NEVER would have found on my own!
If you head to Shaun’s Instagram you can click the link in his bio and choose to schedule you monologue consult call! Trust him with your vision and your work, you will not regret it!
TWUAS.TV is something new that I’ve recently integrated into my at-home theatre artist life and it’s too cute not to share! Not only have I continued to work on my personal craft as a theatre artist during this time, but I have also taken this time to familiarize and educate myself in other areas of the theatre industry. Enter, TWUSA! I have always loved kids and I believe that access to enriching art is extremely vital for young children and their families. TWUAS does exactly that! Through their programming they help bring engaging, exciting, and inclusive theatre to a wider audience of young people whether it be through educational programs or their home life!
One way that they’ve continued to do this during this uncertain time is through TWUSA.TV! With this online streaming platform, children and their families can bring the magic of live performance right into their homes! Educators can also utilize the platform to bring enriching theatre directly into the classroom (both in person and online) and into their lesson plan!
One reason why I love being a performer so much is because you never know whose life you may impact through your performance, and I’ve especially thought about this in my experience doing children’s theatre. I believe it is important to foster one’s love of theatre and performance if it develops from a young age, and what better way to nurture that passion than by bringing theatre straight into the homes or classrooms of children who may not have access to it otherwise?
If you’re interested in TWUSA.TV for your little ones or the classroom you can check it out HERE!
After nearly a year without a voice lesson, I decided to find a new voice teacher! If you feel like, vocally, you’re ready to get back into training or like you have a new goal you’d like towards then I highly suggest getting yourself back into voice lessons! Obviously, it’s a financial commitment, but if you’re fortunate enough to find a teacher with sort of a “revolving door,” where you can choose how often you take lessons, then I absolutely think it’s worth it! I love, love, love my new teacher and I’ve experienced such growth in just a handful of lessons!
And finally, some good news! I mentioned in the beginning of this post that my senior class’s showcase got cancelled in March of last year as the pandemic was happening- a WEEK before we were supposed to go to NYC. You can read my reflection of those prior happenings in my post “The Show Must Go On.”
The good news is, a little over a year later, most of my fellow showcase members and I were able to safely come together a few weeks ago and FILM our showcase to send to agencies digitally!!! It’s times like these I’m grateful to live in a technological world. Nine out of the twelve of us were able to gather together at our college after proper testing took place, and we spent a weekend rehearsing, reconnecting, and having the opportunity to showcase the work that has been waiting in the shadows for a year.
Connecting with my classmates a year later was equal parts nerve wracking and exciting. Some of them I hadn’t seen since we left college last March so abruptly, so I was a little nervous, not gonna lie! But like the true friends these people are, we were able to pick right up where we left off and we had the best time working together again. We’ve all grown so much as individuals outside of the pressure of the college theatre environment, and I think we actually all connected so much better than we ever have before.
Seeing people perform in front of me was magical. Being granted the opportunity to go back to college for 3 days and perform alongside some of the most outrageously talented people I know was magical. And being reminded of what I was put on this earth to do was also magical.
For as many times as I’ve felt like giving up on my dream of a theatre career, these 3 days reminded me that I SHOULD NOT give up any time soon. Keep working to make your dreams happen, friends. They are coming to you, even though it may not be evident in every moment of every day. Your hard working will pay off, your dreams will become your reality, and the world will be a better place because of it!
Lots of love!