It quite literally feels like yesterday that I was taking the final bow of my college career. It was emotionally charged, to say the least. I distinctly remember looking out into a sold-out theatre that I had come to recognize as a home and looking beside me to the people I had performed beside for four years who had become family. Much like the feeling that would overcome me at graduation a few months later, in this moment too I was faced with the reality that I was about to leave a huge part of my life behind forever. That was 11 months ago.
Leaving college, where there are several performance opportunities guaranteed each year, it is a nerve-wracking concept not knowing when your next show will be or if you will ever get the opportunity to be a part of one again. This is especially true for someone like myself who has been fortunate enough to perform in one or more shows every year since I was four years old.
As I was searching for local community theatres holding auditions a few months ago, I was intimidated by many factors. Any audition I went on, I would be just another person.
I wouldn’t be the girl who played XYZ role in the past or has established a reputation with the directors and choreographers. Like those who decide to pursue theatre professionally, I was just another person in the room. It felt freeing, but daunting at the same time. From this point forward, I realized, I would be able to see myself put in action everything I had learned in college theatre, and know if all of those things were enough to carry me forward.
It didn’t take long after graduation before I began to feel the itch to perform again.
In November, I was fortunate enough to find an audition with a company close to my hometown and be cast in a role. It was my first straight play and my first post-graduate theatrical experience. It could not have been more perfect. The owners of the company and the other cast members, who all already knew each other and had performed together, were welcoming and encouraging to say the least.
I had the wonderful experience of working with a new director, stage manager, costume designer and fight choreographer, many of whom are professionals in the field.
As a result of working with an entirely new group of people, I have felt myself grow stronger and more adaptable as an actress, and fearless in the sense that this particular group is not afraid to try new things and put themselves out there for the audience.
I was worried that being in this show, I would miss my college theatre process that I had mastered to a science and my college castmates who were comfortingly predictable and familiar. But as I finish up my run, I feel the same sense of camaraderie, excitement and joy that I have always felt while being part of a show.
Upon reflecting, I realized that it is the same feeling I experienced when I graduated out of my theatre company where I trained from age 4-18 and was forced into the abyss of college theatre, where I had to slowly work my way up. These two similar experiences only prove that when faced with a transitional period in life, when things may be up in the air, unknown, or seemingly impossible, to pursue the things you love with hope and positivity.
It is there that you will find true happiness.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that I was meant to have this experience so soon after college because it proved to me how much performing has become a part of who I am.
Nearly a year after that final bow, I have found myself part of something special and have realized the importance of continuing the pursuit of what you love, despite the challenges it presents.
I found a new community in this theatre experience and I’m glad I took a chance on something new and unknown because it turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more.