Summer is here! And while you should definitely use some of it to relax, it would be silly not to take advantage of the extra time to do at least a little something for your future. So here are a few ideas of ways you can spend your summer vacation to set yourself up for success down the line.
The past year has been rough for live theatre, but there is one benefit that comes from it: streaming theatre! All you need is a device connected to the internet and you have digital access to more shows than ever before. Seattle Rep, Playwrights Horizons, and the RSC are just three of the theatrical powerhouses releasing old and/or new content for the digital realm. The folks over at What’s On Stage have helped us out by compiling this handy list.
Summer is a great time to get some extra training, and there are so many options out there both online and in person. If you live in a city with a professional or amateur theater, chances are they offer summer training. Colleges and universities are another smart place to look, locally or further afield. See if the college you are considering offers any summer training. This can be a great way to get a little preview of the school and investigate whether it might be a good fit for you. And while many of these opportunities will come with tuition or fees, there are almost always scholarships. Never be afraid to ask if there’s financial assistance available. Our New York Teen Shakespeare Summer Intensive is online again this year and it’s not too late to register click HERE for details!
P.S. If you’ve already spent some time training you should also consider seeing if you can work as a teaching assistant at a camp or workshop you’ve already attended. I can tell you from experience that teaching is the best way to truly learn something.
Summer is a great time to start thinking about what you might be doing after you graduate from high school. The time for applying to colleges will sneak up on you, so get an early start. Here are a few easy things you can do:
- Contact a program for more info. – Most theatre departments are going to have brochures and information packets about their programs. Go to the websites of the programs that interest you and find a way to request more information.
- Reach out to people who have gone through programs you’re curious about. – Know someone who’s gone through a BFA program? Reach out to them! Have a teacher who’s sent students to a few different colleges? Ask the teacher if they could put you in touch! Don’t have either of these? Reach out directly to a school and ask if you can talk to a current student or recent graduate!
- See where the jobs are. – Cast a wide net and see where people are working. Go to Backstage.com and scroll through the auditions. Where are the theaters? Where are the film production houses shooting? New York and LA aren’t your only options for building a career, so see if there’s something more attractive out there.
- Take full advantage of your Stagepunch Membership and use our quizzes and database to guide your search.
Is there a local theatre in your area doing summer work? See if they need ushers, ticket takers, interns, whatever! If you can afford to give your time to something, this is a great option for the budding professional theatre artist. It will probably give you the chance to see a show or two and get some insight into how theaters operate.
I want to include this, because volunteering can be fraught. Sometimes your financial situation doesn’t support it. There’s no shame in having to sacrifice a good opportunity so that you can make a little cash. And when I say “work!” I don’t just mean in a theater. Just work! Having money saved up before you go off to college is never a bad thing (especially if you end up going to a BFA program). And if your job stops you from training or working in an established venue, then produce yourself! Get some friends together! Write a script! Perform outside! Most theatre artists will produce their own work at some point, so why not start now?
These are just a few ideas, but there are so many ways to spend your summer that can help you prepare for the future. My last piece of advice: Don’t let it overwhelm you. Bite off only what you can chew. An hour a week researching college programs is better than no hours a week. Find the options that make you excited. And if it scares you a little, chances are you’re headed in the right direction.
Tim Giles is a theatre artist who likes to make work capitalizing on risk, coming together, and a little chaos. He also makes music, bakes a mean loaf of bread, and runs around outside a lot. As a Southerner, he thinks everyone needs to recognize the beauty of one of the best words ever invented: y’all. It’s gender neutral! If y’all start to incorporate “y’all” into y’all’s everyday vocabulary, y’all’ll quickly understand its usefulness.