This ends–for a little while–the story of the journey towards choosing SDSU. A year ago last week, I was auditioning in San Diego, and a year ago this week, I was being offered a position in the 2016 MFA class. Wild, right? So, here are a few final journal entries that retell a small part of my process. Sharing it has provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the events of the past year, consider how I make decisions, and revel in those who have helped me along the way. As I’ve stated in previous posts, if someone out there in cyberspace is also considering a big change, hopefully reading about my journey has showed him or her that he or she is not alone.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Wow. Having a little freakout. No, not freakout…just struck with reality that all of this might actually happen. Lots of thoughts, no order. Here goes:
I kicked off the singing/acting auditions today at SDSU. I nailed it. Was ready. In the zone. Felt amazing.
The people have been really nice so far.
Saw Pal Joey last night. Impressed with some individual performers, but all together not a whiz-bang show.
Still amazed at all of the vegetation that in Illinois would be considered “houseplants” and here is just plunked in the ground.
Strolling the campus: gorgeous.
They are dedicating a new student union this week–which is where I’m writing–which is also gorgeous. Everything is buzzing. It feels good.
This is a bigger school than I imagined. This is way bigger than Lawrence.
People actually ride skateboards here. Like to go places!
How am I going to pay for this?
As much as I have been dreading the question “What do I do if I don’t get in to this school?” for some reason the prospect of uprooting and moving to San Diego for two years suddenly feels scary as well I would probably be skeptical if it didn’t give me butterflies, though.
If there’s times, Jared is going to take me to their new house in Escondido. I think I still want to live with them. I wonder if they feel the same. It is a stressful time for them right now, too.
I should learn Spanish if I come here. That would be fun.
As I’m walking around, I am wishing loved ones were here so I could show this to them. I think that is a good sign.
And here are a few excerpts from writing on the plane home the following day:
Yesterday’s audition was exceptional. The whole day simply felt good. After my individual audition and my own stroll around the campus, I returned to the Musical Theatre Archive for the “group interview.” This was a time for all of the candidates to sit and hear a little more about the program. Everything they related resonated with me. Paula Kalustian–the MFA director–has had a long career as both artist and educator and she–like me–said that they have always grown together. She’s not been able to let one or the other go, and so the program is also geared towards that.
The individual interviews came after that, and once again, I started. It was at this meeting that I was able to convey how much it seemed like the philosophy of the program gelled with my own. Paula expressed the same. She asked about my professional goals. I said I wanted to “kick it up a notch.” We talked St. Louis theatre; she had done some work at Webster. She asked about my dream roles and about my type. I said that as I’m about to turn 34, I would like to play Bobby in Company. She said she has directed it four times, looked straight at me, and nodded, “Yeah.”
In summary, I felt a real click with these people. I think this could really happen. And…I should know in a week. How crazy is that?!
I feel a sense of peace in that it is now out of my hands. I have done everything I can. Now we wait.
Thank you for sharing your story of your MFA applications. I only have three semesters left for my BA in Music and I am looking at grad schools. While I am a music student, musical theatre is what I enjoy most. I am looking into the MFA program at SDSU. Is there anyone in your class that went straight from their undergrad into the MFA? Would you recommend that people go from their BA to MFA or should they spend some time working, auditioning, performing, etc. and then pursue their MFA?
You bring up some great questions about when the right time to pursue an MFA is. In our current class of 2016 at SDSU, no one went directly from undergrad to the grad program, but several MFAs are young and worked for about a year before starting grad school. Without a doubt, everyone in our program feels that they arrived at this program at the right time in their life, and so if you feel strongly that grad school is the right next step for you, go for it. The younger MFAs, however, faced certain challenges that we older students didn’t. Those who spent time acting, directing, choreographing, and teaching were able to build up their skills–and resume–along with their confidence. I personally strongly recommend putting a little bit of space between undergrad and grad school. For example, if you want to be a full-time actor, there is no substitute for pounding the pavement and getting jobs for a year or two. Or, if you really want to be a teacher, nothing can replace the experience of classroom or studio teaching. You will feel at home in the classroom or on stage, gain a better perspective on your strengths and weakness, and have a better idea of your eventual goals as a professional. Then, you can focus your time in grad school towards addressing those goals.