The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On

Learning To Grow With Your Community Through Good Times and Bad

September is in full swing, which means the first semester of college is in full swing! While college students may be experiencing great change, many are doing anything they can to a) keep themselves safe and healthy and b) maintain whatever sense of normalcy they can. As fall rolls around in theatre departments, (the department that I am clearly the most familiar with), the season usually means Showcase audition season for senior theatre students.

For those reading who may not know what “showcase” is/means, generally, it is a group of students from an acting program that are chosen to perform at their school’s showcase for agents/casting directors in the spring of senior year. At my school, like many others I am sure, actor’s showcase was considered a big deal, and a lot of hard work and preparation went into both the auditions and the performance itself.

I want to speak a little on my experience with showcase, and hopefully offer up some encouragement and advice to those preparing to embark on their showcase journey…

I got into my senior showcase and, unfortunately, we didn’t get to take it to New York this past March as we had planned. Literally, about a week and a half before we were scheduled to head to the city, the world became a brand-new place and the showcase was postponed. If you experienced any sort of loss of work due to the pandemic, you could imagine how completely devastated we all were- myself, my classmates, and my professors. In school, the members of the showcase class met several times a week to rehearse and continue to learn about the industry. We continued to meet as a class over zoom once we were sent home but reaching the day our performance was supposed to take place and meeting on a zoom instead was extremely hard.

But let’s back track a bit and talk about the prep for this opportunity. At my school, the process begins at the end of junior year. The basic info is given out, and the summer before senior year, you begin the hunt for audition material. Mid-September you audition, that week you find out if you will be part of the showcase class, and if you are chosen from the auditions, you kind of immediately start searching for your materials that you’ll perform. There is a lot more to choosing material than you would think. We did scenes/songs, so pairs needed to be solidified and the order finely tuned. Even after we thought we had settled on material, it changed, and the process started all over. God bless my professor and her team because I am sure there was SO much more to it than I even know at this point, having been through it all. You rehearse. And rehearse. And rehearse. And then you’re supposed to take that work, do your thing, and celebrate when it’s all said and done. We got it all, but that last bit looked a little different for the class of 2020.

So, I swear I have a point here, and it is this: I’m sharing this experience and perspective because we went through it all only for it not to happen. If you would have told me a year ago (yikes, a year ago already) when I was preparing for auditions, “hey, maybe don’t stress so much because…what if the world enters a pandemic and showcase gets cancelled?,” I would’ve laughed right in your face and proceeded to stress anyway. I started going back over every aspect of the class and the preparation that I had worried myself sick over, and I just kept thinking, “wow, I was so upset in that moment and so worried in that moment, and so frustrated in that moment…and for what?” Now, I understand that when I was upset/frustrated/worrying in the moment, there was no way for me to see into the future. I felt as though every feeling I was feeling was valid and justified, and in those moment, they were, but it was a major lesson for me.

I was so stressed the day before auditions, my mom and aunt took me to get my nails done in an attempt to get my mind off things
I was so stressed the day before auditions, my mom and aunt took me to get my nails done in an attempt to get my mind off things. If it looks like I had been crying…it’s probably because I had been.

Not to get all Carrie Bradshaw on you here, but the whole experience got me thinking about the weight I place on moments in my life, the importance that I assign to things, and how I often allow little stressors to overtake my life in a much larger and unhealthy way. I spent many months in preparation for showcase allowing myself to feel anxiety, frustration, and pressure and allowing those feelings to really run me dry. There were lots of time I just couldn’t focus or sleep because I just couldn’t turn my mind off. It was like a hamster wheel of deadlines, scripts, notes, judgments- you name it. On the other side of it all, it made me take a deeper look at myself and the bad mental habits I had created and ask myself, “would I be this worried if I knew I wouldn’t have this to worry about in a month?,” and if the answer is no, then I shouldn’t assign so much weight to that task. If I had that mentality throughout the whole process, I can guarantee the work I was producing would’ve been even better, too.

Let me be perfectly clear: feelings of stress/anxiety/frustration are all normal, but allowing them to run your mental health is, well, not healthy. My feelings like that and the weight I assigned to them also did NOT solely stem from my showcase, but from a combination of life as a college student in her senior year, plus all other aspects of life.

My best friend, Cathy, and I enjoying some margs post-showcase auditions
My best friend, Cathy, and I enjoying some margs post-showcase auditions

My showcase class and I always had a blast when we were together. When we were staging the showcase, we were all seated onstage to watch each other’s scenes and songs. The supportive, loving, and electric energy that I felt in that room every time we would sit and watch each other was simply remarkable and untouchable. I constantly had the chills or tears in my eyes while marveling at some of my best friends and colleagues bringing their gifts to life. We were each other’s support systems in the crazy process, and I feel very lucky to have shared every last minute of the journey with them. Showcase or no showcase, we will always have each other.

For my friends preparing to embark on this journey yourselves, no matter how different the experience may be, here is my advice to you:

  • Choose material that you love that speaks to your heart. Fight for it and for yourself.
  • If you don’t end up being part of your showcase class, do not let it stop you for a single second. Promise me that. Your art and your voice matter, showcase or no showcase. It does not define your worth or your career path WHATSOEVER.
  • Be kind to one another. Be kind to your leaders. Everyone is adjusting to a whole new way of doing this, so be gentle with each other.
  • Do the work. That’s all on that. Try not to allow yourself to get too overwhelmed. I promise, every aspect will fall into place. It may take 50 tries and you may not end up where you started but take comfort in knowing it WILL work out for the best.
  • Hold on to your classmates. All of them. That is your support system, now and forever. Celebrate each other’s victories and comfort each other in moments of struggle. Enjoy being in a creative space with your best people and be grateful for one another.

Be grateful. Be gracious. Be kind. Be you.

You will make it through.

~ Ang

5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before College

5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before College

5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before College

Little Lessons to Keep In Mind Whether You’re Going Back In Person or Not!

Hey, babes!

All my college homies, this one is for you!!!

Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on college and the experiences that have shaped me into the person I am becoming, it got me thinking about how different some of my college experiences were compared to what I thought they would be. It happens with any new and exciting event in our lives- we construct our ideal version in our heads and then reality swoops in and puts us back in check.

Truthfully, so much of what I had told myself would happen in college didn’t happen. Things I was told to expect didn’t always happen according to “plan.” But sometimes they did! There were also SO many times where the unexpected happened! For better or worse, I think everything in my journey happened when and how it needed to happen. I learned every lesson just how I was supposed to in my four-year journey.

5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before College
My first first day of college (left) vs. my last first day of college (right)

But were there other things that happened in my college experience I wish someone had warned me about? ABSOLUTELY! Did I go through experiences that I wish I could have been even the slightest bit more prepared for? FOR SURE! Looking back, were there lessons and principles I wish I would’ve kept in mind more as I navigated my way through classes, relationships, and my field of study? YOU BETCHA! So, I want to share with you 5 little nuggets of advice you can hold onto as you venture into college, continue your education, or just as you need them in life!

  1. Being a Planner is NOT all bad!– When I got to college, I was NOT the “planner” that I am now. I knew I would have the drive to get organized, but I really didn’t know where to start. Owning a planner certainly was a massive step in the right direction. I used a color coding system to keep my classes and assignments on track! Knowing that my own organization was one part of my life I could control during the huge adjustment made me feel more at ease. When I would get the syllabus, I would immediately write down due dates in my planner from the course calendar, so I was always able to be one step ahead, and never have anything sneak up on me! Finding the best way for you to organize your school work will take a little bit of weight off of your shoulders, and YOU DO have control over that! If you’re looking for a great planner with enough space to keep all of your obligations on track check out the Planit Planner here! (use code ANGELAL10 for 10% off!)
  2. Try to see the light at the end of the tunnel!– I know that sometimes, no matter how much you plan, everything happening at a given time during college can be extremely stressful. It always seems to work out that all of your major tests, projects, and auditions fall in the same week. A cruel joke, right? And when you’re right in the thick of it, it can be extremely difficult to fathom how you will ever get through it. I encourage you to always try to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Try to tap into your breath as best as you can to center yourself. It is so much easier said than done (trust me, I spent four years rarely trying to see how things would be on the other side), but I promise you when those crazy, busy times have ended, you’ll sit back and wonder “why was I causing myself so much stress?” Everything will work out, I promise!
  3. Don’t expose yourself to unnecessary stress!– While college is largely about furthering your education, another huge aspect is your social life! Making new friends, meeting new people, and trying new things are what the college experience is all about. To be completely candid- you will most likely experience some drama in your four years, whether it has to do with friendships, relationships, work, etc. My best advice to you is to distance yourself from any unnecessarily dramatic situation as soon as you possibly can. If there are people that you become friends with or you start dating that quickly prove themselves to be toxic individuals, cut them out. The people that you meet in college and let become a large part of your life should not cost you your sanity! This also goes for any obligations you take on. Try not to bite off more than you can chew! If you say yes to something but find that it is causing you more stress than joy, be completely honest with yourself and the other individuals involved, and savor your sanity.
  4. You will lose friends, and that’s ok.– Friendships is an amazingly weird thing. As we grow, our friendships either grow with us, or they don’t- and THAT IS OK! It doesn’t make you a bad person or make others bad people. Going into college, if you lose touch with some of the people you went to high school with that is completely normal. You may be on totally different schedules or across the world from one another, plus you are both adapting to this new way of life! If the friendships are worth it to both of you, you will keep in touch. Even once you get to college, your friendships will shift! You may be closer to one person one year and closer to another the next. Your relationships will either grow with you or you may grow out of them, but either way YOU are GROWING!
  5. Give yourself some grace.- One important thing to remember in college is that change is inevitable. And sometimes change can be messy. In times that are tough, I want you to remember not to be so hard on yourself. There will be times when you cannot do it all, you cannot commit to every event or every hang out because you need to take time for you, and that is ok. It is also important to remember you cannot please everyone, nor is it your responsibility to. You may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and they might not be yours! So, be unapologetically yourself and grant yourself some grace, baby!

I know that college may look a little different for some this year, but I think that some of these little reminders are things you can carry with you all the time- whether you’re in a college setting or not! Your experience is what you make it, so always remember that something amazing can come out of something unexpected or different. You’re going to crush this academic year, I’m rooting for you!

Best of luck!

~ Ang

Dear Friend…

Dear Friend…

A Love Letter to My College Years

A Love Letter to My College Years

Where did the time go? It feels like yesterday that I was setting foot on campus for the first time as a student- excited, nervous, hopeful for the four years that would follow. It feels like yesterday I was meeting these new people for the first time, unaware of how important they would come to be in my life. Like yesterday, I gained my first real taste of independence that would ignite the spark that would guide me through the journey of the most important years of my life to date.

A Love Letter to My College Years
My freshman roomie and forever friend, Bella, and I prepping for Girl’s Night!

The lessons I learned in my four years of schooling are endless. From a career standpoint, I am so blessed to have been placed where I was for the last four years. Truthfully, (sorry, DeSales!), but DeSales was not the place I wanted to go! I had my eyes on so many larger schools with (what I thought at the time) were bigger and better theatre programs, but I have no regrets in the choice I made. If I hadn’t gone to DeSales, I never would have had a regional theatre right at my fingertips. I am forever indebted to DeSales and the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival for taking a chance on me and presenting me with all the incredible opportunities I was able to be part of.

I learned the importance of professionalism and preparedness- two of the most invaluable qualities to possess in any career. I also learned the value of kindness above all else. I fell in love with DeSales because of how welcoming the community was; I was always shown compassion. The theatre department was also the place where I began to learn to trust myself and my gut instincts as an actor, which ultimately helped me to trust myself in everyday life. I gained such a sense of freedom of expression, and I was allowed to cultivate the tools deemed necessary moving forward into the working world.

A Love Letter to My College Years
The aftermath of the “Angela Locks Her Keys in the Car for the Third Time” fiasco of sophomore year

But career business aside, the lessons I learned and the perspective I gained off the stage shaped me into the woman I am today. The friends that I made in college undoubtedly will be my forever friends. They will be my life long self-tape readers, my go-to group text, my future bridesmaids, the ‘aunties’ to my future children. My greatest support system. They have taught me so much about what I deserve and have shown me the greatest love I could have imagined. While the four years brought us all many ups and downs, I know the friends I have made will remain my constants.

A Love Letter to My College Years
Playing Elizabeth Darcy in Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley my junior year

I have learned the importance of fostering the passions I have, whether they are related to my chosen career path or not. Because who knows? Dreams change, people change, and the plans I thought I had for my professional career could change in an instant. The lessons and strategies I learned in my four years of college ultimately prepared me (as much as they could) for what I am experiencing right now during this pandemic. Never in a million years could I have predicted that I wouldn’t get to finish out the remainder of my college career sharing every last milestone, big or small, with my best friends by my side. But it is because of the strong relationships I fostered, the practice techniques I honed, and the drive I developed that I have been able to persevere.

A Love Letter to My College Years
My best friend, Kailey, and I making the most of our senior year

There is one lesson that I cherish most of all. Carrie Bradshaw (my girl!) said it best. “Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first.” This couldn’t be more true. Even though this lesson was definitely the hardest for me to grasp, and I am still working on it, I have made such incredible strides in loving the person that I am coming to be in every role that I play in my life- daughter, friend, artist, and beyond.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020. May our light never dim, and our dreams stay big!