I graduated from Theatre School in 2011. I spent some time trying to “make it” as an artist but the reality of being an artist was a lot more difficult than I ever imagined. I am not a working artist, in fact I am currently working for a Global Recruitment Firm as an Implementation Consultant, working that nine-to -five and doing it 100% remotely while I am not travelling for work.
I would not say that I “failed” as an artist, I would say that I learned how to utilize the skillset I gained in Theatre School to make me successful towards my goals as my priorities shifted in life.
What I have learned is that the success I have in my working career – I owe it all to Theatre School. Here is what Employers don’t know about Theatre School Graduates:
1. We are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet.
Theatre School alone was exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally– in the most excellent way. Most programs are designed to get both your academic and practical experience by completing a University Degree and a College Diploma concurrently. You are also likely spending your evenings and weekends in rehearsals leaving little time for homework let alone sleep. In order to pay our way through school many of us also held down part time jobs alongside classes, rehearsals and mountains of reading. This alone will make a Theatre School Graduate a time management guru who knows how to make the most of a 15 minute interval.
2. We are coachable.
Theatre school is spent not only giving feedback to others but mostly learning how to accept constructive feedback and turn it into something positive on the other side. This is especially hard to do when you have poured your heart and soul into an artistic project and the reception from your audience is not what you expected. The person who is giving you the feedback would never know that you are entirely crushed on the inside. Instead you remain resilient and bounce back.
3. We Learn exceptionally quickly and can follow directions.
We learn pages of text, stage directions, choreography, sound and lighting cues and never make a mistake onstage for fear of throwing the scene or the show and we get it all done in sometimes as little as four weeks. We absorb knowledge like a sponge and have memories like a steel trap by learning new scripts every day for a class, show or personal project.
4. We have the skills you cannot teach.
Theatre School graduates are experienced in life, we have interacted with all sorts of people and have had to be extremely comfortable in our own skins. We are comfortable speaking publicly, we know how to read a room and we have an uncanny ability to connect with others. We may not be able to write a Macro in Excel but I will guarantee we will figure out how and then mark that as a new found skillset.
5. We know what community is.
We support each other when times are tough, when a friend hasn’t been able to find work, when someone needs honest feedback on a project or script they are working on. We make work when we cannot find it, we support our local communities and small businesses and network relentlessly. We are all willing to help – anytime.
To the Artist who feels like they lost their way, to the graduate who is terrified to enter the real world, to the person working whatever job comes to you because you need to pay the bills. It’s okay if your priorities shift, life will always surprise you. This does not mean that you “failed” as an artist it just means that you have found a way to keep surviving. My only advice is that you need to keep art in your life, feed your creative spirit because it will eat you alive if you let it go hungry.