Everyone who knows me, knows that I am who I am because of my involvement in theatre. Being involved in theatre has allowed me to develop a strong sense of self-confidence, empathy and understanding of certain emotions. Being able to play a part, makes you become much more in touch with yourself as you are forced to ask yourself how you would respond differently to your character. Theatre has also taught me how to be a collaborator and how not to be afraid of putting my ideas out there, letting others adapt them, get them turned down. How to hold on tightly, and let go lightly. How to be passionate about ideas, but not to be disappointed if things don’t work out your way.
Theatre also has taught me the strength of individuality. I struggled with comparing my abilities to those around me in an industry where being unique and different from others is how you grow. It was a waste of time because I was focusing on other people’s strengths, instead of my own. A lot of people have to look around to discover what they’re passionate about, and I was lucky enough to know right away. To say that I feel truly at home when I step onstage is an understatement. Up until two years ago, the theatre was just a passion. It was somewhere I felt safe to be my most authentic self, and performing is something I truly enjoy. It was when I realized theatre was the thing to bring me the most joy, that I knew it’s what I needed to pursue, as I couldn’t envision a life where I was doing anything else.
After deciding that Musical Theatre was the direct stream of theatre I would be pursuing, I began doing research, and I knew that the best fit for me would be to audition and apply mostly out of the country. The thing with BFA programs, especially in Musical Theatre, is that all schools are looking for different things. Some schools want performers who are stronger dancers or singers, or actors with a classical foundation, or technically inclined vocalists over acting. It all gets very confusing because it’s not like having a certain average can guarantee your acceptance into a program. It’s all about what the schools are looking for on the day of your audition. I didn’t like those odds.
After several panicky sessions with Mr. Huckvale, I made a final list of 20 universities I would be applying to. Each of the schools I applied to accept 30-60 students for Musical Theatre out of thousands and thousands of applicants. Again, I didn’t like those odds. From August to December, I spent the majority of my time writing three-to-four supplemental essay question answers for each university, because along with the getting accepted into the BFA program at each school, I had to be accepted into the school itself. To get accepted into the BFA musical theatre programs, I had to submit these things called Pre-Screens to each of the schools. A pre-screen is a video audition, and if the school likes your video audition, they invite you to fly out to their school for a live audition. Passing a pre-screen isn’t a guaranteed acceptance, it’s just a filtering process.
Every single school I applied to required something different for their pre-screens. All required two monologues, two songs and a dance video. But even with those, each school had different criteria for each song and monologue which brought me to a total of 14 different audition songs, and seven different monologues that I keep in my back pocket at all times. In the last four months, I have auditioned for three schools in person, and up until three days ago, I was still going through the process of submitting pre-screens and booking more auditions.
I didn’t pass all my pre-screens, and I wasn’t accepted to the majority of the programs I applied to, which taught me how to manage the rejections. It took a while for me to understand that as an international student, I am meant to fill an international quota for each school. Some schools are 45% international, whereas some are only 3%. I then learned that it wasn’t always me. I couldn’t take it personally. After that, the process went a lot smoother. I ranked all of my schools 1-20, and when I started getting acceptances from my number 8 and number 5 slots, I was able to cancel auditions and withdraw applications from all of the ones below. My list was constantly changing based on acceptances and rejections, so when I got the email from my number one choice last week, I was pretty pleased.
This process has been very stressful and a lot of hard work, but I was surrounded by people who supported me and helped me, which made it a lot more fun and manageable then I expected. I hope that by sharing this information with all of you, I will help encourage you to be passionate about whatever it is that brings you endless joy, regardless of the length of the journey it takes to get there.
Starting in September, I will be studying Musical Theatre at Boston Conservatory at the Berklee School of Music, and I couldn’t be more excited.
By Jordan Robertson-Reid ’19