There's something really interesting about performing a show for young audiences inside a high school. Standing around the girls bathroom while Catholic teens with truckers' vocabulary and skirts so short a stripper might ask you where you got it gossip and bitch, well, I couldn't help but feel the slightest bit uncool... it might have had something to do with the pantaloons and pigtails.
The show itself was a blast to do. People in attendance usually took a little bit of time to warm up to us (especially if we happened to be performing at 8:30 a.m.), but that was mostly because they didn't know what to expect. It's Shakespeare right? Then why is there a guy in a beard running around in a dress with his boobs drooping all the way down to his knees? I giggle as I picture the visual in my head. Hee.
After most performances, we would have a brief talk-back with the kids. Questions would range from "How did you come up with the concept for the show?" to "Did you get any tongue with that kiss?"
But since a lot of these kids were drama students, almost every single time we were asked: "Where did you go to school for acting?"
You could see it on their eager faces: "I want to go there too so I can do what you just did." And that, I found quite dangerous.
Though I was happy to tell them I went to the University of Ottawa, I wish I could have told them what I recently found so eloquently presented on The Mission Paradox blog on The miseducation of the artist:
School doesn't teach anybody to be an artist. They teach skills. What separates (you) from the pack is (your) willingness to mix (your) considerable skill with the art/love/generosity that lies within. It takes a lot of courage to do that. When (you) or any passionate artist is really trying to connect with people, they open themselves up for ridicule. They risk being laughed at. They risk having their ideas challenged. In many ways it's easier to be that second violinist. It's easier to just blend in and do your part. Sure, the wage sucks, but that's the price you pay for being invisible.
I recommend everyone reads the full post by clicking the link above.
I truly believe it does not matter where you go to school if you want to make art. It's about what you do when you are there - the people you meet, the activities you participate in - and knowing that your learning experience does not end when your official education does. You can gain skills anywhere, but what's really going to help you succeed is your passion, your drive, your dedication, and your love of what you do. And you have to love it, every part of it,
even especially the rejections because they are only going to make you stronger.
It would have been easy for me to stop auditioning for the Fools after not getting cast the first time, but I kept at it. Maybe 5 or 6 auditions later, after wearing them down enough that they probably went "Well, she keeps coming back even though we made her dance on roller skates to Single Ladies while reciting verse with a mouth-guard on her teeth... maybe we should put her in a show," I FINALLY got to wear yellow tights. It's about persistence. And love.
That's what's going to help you stand out.
And that's what I wish I could have told those kids.