“Leap and the net will appear…”
Sometimes, scratch that, many times in your life, you will fall on your ass. Hard. And when that happens, many times over, don’t blame the lack of net. There wasn’t a net to begin with. Where’s the fun in a cozy landing?
Here’s the thing: mantras are absolutely necessary in pushing student artists into the professional realm, but there’s a misstep, a hiccup rather, in that transition. Waiting for a “net” to appear doesn’t mean that every risk you take is going to be met with cozy results. Out there in postgrad land, there are more factors calculating success that stretch beyond a semester grade. Leaping can often mean taking time off work to audition, putting your own money into self-producing a play, or moving to a new city and building a career from the ground-up. That’s not to say that that world outside of a BFA training program is a set-up for failure, but rather that this ambiguous postgrad land is an invitation to fall flat on your face, and pick oneself up again without anyone continuously reminding you of that experience in class. There’s too much money at stake in the professional theater to continuously feel reminded of our artistic boo-boo’s.
In my work as a dramaturg, I fell on my ass hard when I asked my playwright the right question at the wrong time, setting our development process back a week. I leapt and there was no net to cushion that fall. I failed. I bruised. I healed. And we all moved on. We couldn’t afford to have it any other way.
So what am I really trying to say? I’m saying, as you approach the big, scary world, leap and know sometimes you will fall harder than expected. You will close some shows at a deficit. You will get rejection letters. You will also achieve success you never anticipated. Success a conservatory can’t calculate. But you will succeed. The fact that you are willing to free-fall is success enough.