By Kate Claussen.
Finishing a degree, to a lot of people, will be a relief. But for Musical Theatre graduates, there is no doubt that it is an extremely exciting, yet, a nerve-wracking part of your journey! When finishing my degree in Musical Theatre, I felt proud, sad, excited and scared all at once and it was quite overwhelming at times. The most exciting thought when finishing my degree was the idea of going into the industry and showing agents, casting directors and producers my finishing result of four years at drama school.
From my own experience and speaking to other drama school graduates, I have found the issue that us performers face is coming out of our bubble of:
- regular performances
- weekly constant lessons
- ability to practise in a space only a stone throw away from our accommodation
- our family of friends and teachers who manage to help us in not only our performance growth but even issues with little things like housing or even clothing choice for auditions!
I am lucky to say, my bubble of friends and teachers believed in me 110%, pushed me to exceed when I didn’t think I could and supported me throughout my entire journey.
But when you graduate, eventually, everyone gets on with their own lives, we lose the constant contact (and cuddles) and you are no longer surrounded by actors and working professionals who understand your profession like no other. Not only that, training is no longer free! Lessons in singing, acting and dance are expensive, rejection is inevitable and feedback for growth isn’t given anymore. So, what do I do to survive the industry?
Disclaimer: I am no means an expert, I don’t believe I have the advice for graduates, these are based on all my personal experiences and how I have coped after graduated.
Practice, practice, practice.
What we must remember is that, the training does not end there! Training lasts a lifetime! When times are tough and I do not have the finances for regular singing lessons, I remember that I have years of singing lessons and exercise recorded to my phone! I make notes all the time to try and better understand my technique and ability to improve. With acting, I become more knowledgeable. I’m constantly reading new material, breaking down text just for fun, reading about new techniques, looking through notes from drama school (any drama school students, this is SO handy and SO important!). More importantly, I try to do extra things, such as try to gain understanding more of life. I feel the more life experience you have, the more you can develop yourself as an actor too.
I found keeping active is so important to my physical and mental health. Not only does it keep me fit for dance auditions, but it keeps my brain active and improves my mental health. It can be difficult to stay completely optimistic during your graduate life but this surely does help.
Stretching is important to me, I really enjoy it and it helps me to stay limber for dance auditions and also I find it incredibly relaxing. You can do it in the morning or before you go to bed and even meditate alongside it! I love it so much! (You can also perform some great party tricks at some muggle parties!!!)
Keep in contact with your fellow performers and support each other!
When you are feeling deflated, sometimes all you need is someone to listen to your rant who understands or someone to give you little words of encouragement. I feel so lucky to have my girl group from drama school who support each other all the time via Whatsapp, we talk about day to day life, funny times and also we support each other when it comes to the industry. I strongly recommend to set up a Whatsapp or Text group and that way you can easily keep in contact with your friends, it can be easy when graduating to go your separate ways and it can be so easy for time to pass so quickly and next thing you realise, you haven’t spoken to any of your friends! But by creating a group, you can easily stay in contact and equally.
Find other hobbies!
Performing WAS my hobby, it is now my career, so I find its important to pick up some new hobbies to enjoy too, such as yoga, Zumba, writing, rock climbing etc, it can be anything. I love picking up new hobbies, it’s exciting and a great way to keep a perfect career-life balance.
Keep having fun!
I found myself working myself into the ground once I graduated and forgot to have fun! It’s important to have (what I call) a dairy-lee triangle cheese packet. Individually little triangle with, career, friends, family, hobbies, leisure and relaxation. I feel it I split my time into these six little triangles I feel much more balanced and can keep myself healthy and well to carry on smashing my goals and dreams!
Remember, why you love performing and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
Lastly, we have got to remember, we adore this profession and there is nothing else we’d rather do. I can hand on my heart say that I could not imagine myself doing anything else. Yes, of course, we have our jobs to pay our bills and live our lives. But ultimately, even just knowing that you are auditioning, learning and growing for the industry is so rewarding. It’s so easy to compare yourself with others who may be getting job offers left right and centre. But EVERYONE is so different. There is no measuring stick we can use to compare and even if there was, how unhelpful would that be?! Everyone is on their own path and journey and we must accept that and focus on ourselves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate is a recent graduate from Trinity Laban studying Musical Theatre. She is now exploring post-grad life and is represented by Roberts & Day Management. Whilst auditioning for roles and getting involved in productions, she has also begun teaching musical theatre, whilst completing her Level 3 Personal Training qualification and Spin Instructor qualifications. She has performed in various productions such as Bernstein's Mass at the Royal Festival Hall, appeared in an Easy Jet advert and most recently completed voiceover work for a charity.