5 Things Nobody Told Me About Drama School: A Reflection on My First Term of Training
So last week was the end of my first term at Toi Whakaari – 9 weeks in my class of 20 doing intensive and exhausting work, and I have loved it so far because it has challenged me in so so many different ways. This being said, there are some things that I wasn’t particularly prepared for in my training so far which have made themselves evident as of late:
1. you have to ‘break’ yourself
I think a lot of us went into drama school thinking that we were going to be emotionally beaten and spiritually broken and what not. Whilst this isn’t completely untrue (this term was very emotionally draining), tutor Heather has ensured us that it’s not the school’s method and that that’s a traditional and outdated mentality/method. A classmate recently came to the conclusion that it’s us who have to ‘break’ ourselves (for lack of a better term) and that kind of changed everything and how I looked at the school. The tutors aren’t going to work every single person individually, we’ve sort of discovered that it’s about testing and applying methods to your own practice and pushing yourself rather than relying on others to.
2. sometimes the little things are more difficult
Personally I know that I expected all the difficulty to happen in class, on the floor, working. But that hasn’t always proved to be the case. This includes but is DEFINITELY not limited to budgeting finances (I have learned to live on less than $10 a week – not even kidding), social qualms (so-and-so doesn’t like me blah blah, nobody wants to hang out with me), personal blocks (not feeling good enough, feeling ugly, how do I apply this classroom learning to my practice etc), learning problems (thoughts like: oh my god I’m so stupid how am I at this school everybody else is so fucking smart I think I got in by accident how did I not know this, etc etc) and I don’t even think that’s the end of it.
The little things like that aren’t things I expected to be so prominent in my day-to-day life, but then again I don’t think anybody could have prepared me for these things because they are all so personal to me and variant on my experiences. I’m still learning how to manage these things. It’s all a work in progress.
3. shamelessness is easier said than done
It’s so easy for people to tell you to be ‘brave’ and ‘shameless’ and to ‘care less!’ about looking like a fool but honestly it is easier said than done. I’ve found that in screen labs and stuff I feel like my class looks so beautiful on camera and that I just look like a demented creature. It’s crazy because I try so hard to remove that self-consciousness but there’s still that tiny part of me that wants to pull back and to shrivel up when I see myself on screen. It’s something that I will probably be continually working on throughout my training which is fine but it’s been hindering my working potential in the first term and that really doesn’t sit well with me so I will have to bring more attention to that because it’s not helpful to me or the work, and feels a bit self-indulgent
4. quiet victories, however small, are victories all the same
You don’t have to be praised to know that you’re doing a good job, and not all your achievements have to be acknowledged. Sometimes the smaller victories are the ones worth noting. It’s easy to feel lost in a class of 20 and to feel like you’re going under the radar a bit but I think working hard and holding your own will pay off, if you’re not focusing too hard on what that person is doing and the fact that they’re getting worked and you’re not
5. we’re all learning and nobody has got it 100% figured out
I guess this is probably like, a sentimental metaphor for life or something. A while ago we were having a class discussion reflecting on an intensive block of work at the end of the term – I bought forward to the group that I was having trouble in class because I constantly feel like everybody else knows what they’re doing and has got ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ is and has the work down and is much more capable than I am. After I bought this up, it turns out that pretty much everybody else has been feeling this way. But they’ve all been trying to hide it from each other, I guess. I tend to look at people and see their strengths and see them as these amazing people of talent but I forget that we are all struggling and are still very much figuring things out, as am I. I can’t wait to see what the next term brings for my class and I hope this feeling I have been experiencing of loneliness and inability subsides eventually.