Around this time last year, I wrote an open letter to my first year drama school self. Now that I’m another year “wiser”, I thought I would write another open letter to that scared little boy who has just graduated drama school, with some of the lessons and observations I’ve made from my first year out in the industry.
Welcome to the ‘real world!’
Firstly, you’ve just met these wonderful people named Erin and Matt who’ve offered you a chance to write for aussietheatre.com. Now I know you’re stressed that you’ll be unemployed for a year and have absolutely nothing to write about, but I promise it’ll turn out fine and you’ll actually really love it. Also, just know that people actually read stuff on the Internet and you’re not just writing in a bubble for your own enjoyment.
Secondly, this industry is a really wonderful place full of the most incredible people. You will absolutely love becoming a part of it. However, it is full of highs and lows, and the most crucial thing you’ll learn is the importance of a life outside of it. You will develop incredible relationships with friends old and new, and that will ultimately be the thing that brings you the most consistent happiness. It’s important to create a self worth beyond your career in any industry, and although that will continue to be a work in progress, you’ll get a lot better at it over the next 12 months.
One of the best things to happen to you soon after graduating is that you’ll miss out on a show everyone told you that you were perfect for. And you’ll quickly learn how not to get your heart set on every audition after that, because there are so many factors out of your control anyway.
Speaking of auditions, they will always come in blocks at the same time, and never when you have enough time free to dedicate to them.
I know that one of the things that scare you most is how spontaneous performing forces your life to be. Funnily enough, it is about to become one of your favourite things about the industry. You never really know what city you’ll end up in next, who you’ll meet and what you’ll be doing. And while that is still scary sometimes, it ultimately keeps life really exciting.
You’ll find that there are individual pros and cons to doing professional theatre and independent theatre, and you’ll come to learn that one can’t really exist without the other.
For an industry that hasn’t ever claimed to offer financial security, a fair few people (in and out of the industry) will seem to be a lot more focussed on money than you might expect; not necessarily just how much they earn, but how much everyone else earns. And if an actor has to go back to a part time ‘muggle job’ at some points, that’s not a bad thing, that’s just how this industry works.
As a new graduate, you’ll have to quickly learn to stop comparing yourself to those who have been out in the industry for a solid amount of time and who have paid their dues to get to where they are today. ‘Success’ rarely comes overnight in this business. You’ve got time! You’re in it for the long haul. Comparisons in this industry in general will just drive you unnecessarily insane. You are your own performer. No one else will ever be like you, and therefore no one will have your exact career path. That’s one of the things that make this industry so exciting.
Something that’s not so exciting is the inability to watch a show or a movie without analysing the techniques behind it you developed during drama school… unfortunately, that won’t go away. #tbt to undistracted entertainment!
It’s always important to have goals in this career and to keep looking towards the future. Try not to do that at the expense of living in the present and making the most of your current experiences.
Above all, you can look forward to one of the best years of your life, but not just because of this industry. It will be quite different to the comforts of drama school, but you will meet the most wonderful people and have the most wonderful experiences.
Lots of love,
Your newly ‘second year out’ self
P.S. You will absolutely adore Melbourne, but even that city won’t be able to make you love the taste of coffee.