When I graduated from college, I was so glad to have graduated and to be done with course work for a while that I couldn't think about anything beyond that. I was worried about money and I wanted to get a job, to work and have a routine instead of my crazy school scheduling. But also, I was afraid. I was afraid of making a decision that I might live to regret. I was afraid I might be making the wrong choice if I went to grad school without really considering what I wanted to study. I didn't think I was knowledgeable enough about Shakespeare to pursue it academically. I didn't think I had the right skills, having not majored in English or ever having performed in theater. But I've realized that that's not true and, while I'm taking a risk and am facing ridiculous odds, it's a chance I want to take.
Since deciding to apply for the Shakespeare Studies program at King's, I've had more motivation than I've had in months. I oscillate between daring optimist and terrified fatalist, but for the most part, I feel positive. After recently finishing a book called The Shakespearean Dramaturg, I struggle to see how I could have ever thought that there was anything else I ought to be doing with my life. But just a year ago, reading such a book would have filled me with doubt that I would be capable of such work. But now it fills me with hope.
Have I ever spoken at length about dramaturgy here? I don't believe I have. In the risk of repeating myself, I'll discuss it, as it's not a term everyone is familiar with. I was only first told about it while discussing my interest in the Cultural Studies grad student office and a student came up to me and said that, essentially what I'd been describing about wanting to do with theater was dramaturgy. I recall being told that it's sometimes easier to describe what dramaturges aren't than what they are. They don't make the decisions in the production. They don't act it out. But they do a whole lot of other things that are fantastic. Professor Tandy, the instructor I had for my Shakespeare class, said a dramaturge she knew described it like being a midwife - you don't have the baby, you don't raise the baby, but you're there to help.
Most of all, I long for the community that being in theater creates. Something I loved about being part of the orchestra pit in the musicals my high school performed was being part of this larger group, this amazing diverse collective of people that came together to produce something amazing. I felt much the same about performing in band, but there was an added sense of magic with the musicals, perhaps with the element of all the layers built in to staging a show. It was incredible to see the show go from the early rehearsals and tech week into opening night and there was a thrill to it that I've missed dreadfully.
But somehow I didn't realize I missed it. I'd buried it underneath my concerns for other things and my fears that I wasn't meant for theater work because I'd been led elsewhere or I'd led myself away from it. Then I interned at the Guthrie and things began to change. I realized that there was definitely a place for me in the theater world. I was still afraid to jump into immediately, but I knew where I wanted to end up eventually. And while trying to take paralegal classes at Globe University, I did exactly as Professor Tandy so wonderfully stated, "You realized you were at the wrong Globe."
I've been considering why I ever closed off my love for theater and my longing to work with it in the first place. Was I disappointed in myself for not pursuing acting in high school? Was I devastated about not getting into the School of Music at my university? Did I think doing something like this would distract me from writing? Did I try and replace theater with an interest in other things - film, TV, media studies in general? Did I feel tempted to listen to the woman who, in my first year of high school, told me science made more money than theater and play-writing and though I ignored her, her comments continued to echo in my mind? Was I afraid of choosing something to pursue, afraid it would box me in from other options? Yes. Yes to all of these.
Dramaturgy and academic study is so multifaceted and full of so many opportunities that I know I won't feel closed off to anything. But I am afraid. So many friends of my friends have been rejected from the grad schools they have applied to and I'm beginning to worry that I have no chance, especially as an international student applying for a program that only accepts a small number of people. I feel like I have an interesting program and at least a good chance of being noticed by the program. But my sentimental heart and skeptical mind continue to duke it out is fluctuating between optimism and brutal realism and I have no idea what to expect. I worry that getting another internship with limited theater experience is a long shot and hoping to land both the internship AND grad school is asking for far too much.
But I'm going for it. And that's what matters to me. I've been throwing myself into so much theater the past few weeks - seeing several shows performed here in Minneapolis, revisiting the theater community on the U of M campus and envying their collaborative supportive community, volunteering at the Minnesota Thespian Conference at the Guthrie and experiencing the sheer joy of being back there again. I have to at least try for this program and, if I don't get in, it won't be the end of the world. I'll find other opportunities and other routes to do this. I'm just happy to know what I want to do now. And I'm excited to do it.
So once more unto the breach, dear friends! Let's do this thing :)