My Guide to Making the Most of Your Theater Minor, or How to Alliterate Your Blog Posts, or Goodbye Yellowbrick Road (College Edition). Being a theater minor was hard and compelling. Not only did it take a bajillion credit hours and hard work, but it also involved a certain amount of making a place for myself. When I first talked to *someone* in CFA about the minor (I really can’t remember who it was. I never saw him again), I distinctly remember him saying, “Minors have a really special place in our program… it can seem difficult… but you’ll find your place.” And that really put me on guard for about two years. Until that moment, I hadn’t really ever considered why being a minor would set me apart… why would I not find my place? From that moment onward, I was hyper aware of my outsider position, for better or for worse. And let me tell you, it has made all the difference. Looking back, I kind of wish that this random faculty member had not made me so aware of myself in relation to others, but here is what I have learned. I realize it is preachy, but it is what I would have told freshman me, not that she would have listened.
Lesson 1: Talk to People. It took me a very long time to do this, but don’t be like me. That first day of your first drama lit class will be intimidating. I think it might also be intimidating for the majors (they’ve likely heard horror stories–sorry, Ilana). But it will be extra intimidating for the minors, because it will look like everyone knows each other already. They do. But don’t worry, if you start talking, they’ll start talking back. The minute I started making friends in CFA, my time in joint major/ non-major classes got infinitely more exciting.
Lesson 2: Do the Reading. In the large lecture classes, it will be easy and tempting to skip the reading. Don’t do it. Those plays are Gold(oni get it? sorry.) But really, even the ones you don’t think you have time to read will be instrumental in your understanding of theater as an art form. Don’t laze yourself through your education. Also, the more you read plays, the better you get at it. So, that’s a good skill to have.
Lesson 3: Speak up in Class. Unless you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you have no idea what you’re talking about, be quiet, or someone will rip you to shreds. If you do know what you’re saying then say it. Even if everyone disagrees with it, a good debate can spark growth, an important part of any theater artist’s diet.
Lesson 4: Don’t Hate on Stagecraft. Yes, it is annoying. Yes, the work can be tedious. Yes, you probably have more intense extra-curricular theater experiences to get back to, and this is somehow ruining all of it–been there, done that. But, here is the thing. Stagecraft helps you accomplish lesson one (talk to people). Some of my favorite SOT kids were on my team for stagecraft. Let me tell you, nothing induces bonding like hours upon hours of waiting for someone else’s laundry to dry. Okay, so I’m not doing a good job of selling it, but stagecraft will pretty much force you to be friends with SOT kids, and that is a good thing because you take a whole lot of classes with them.
Lesson 5: Enjoy. It can be frightfully easy to get swept up in the stress of the drama lit classes, or the general ease of the acting classes, but don’t let it happen. Yes the lit classes are a lot of work, but if you remember that they are there for learning, they’re fun. The performance classes are what you put into them. Yes, you could just skate by in them no problem, but they’re only going to be valuable if you actually make an effort. And the effort is worth it because of the whole fun thing.