I’m living in London, England now. How crazy is that? Ask me where I thought I’d end up 5 years ago, when I just started my undergrad, and I would have said in a newspaper office, transcribing interviews and feeling the pressure of the ever approaching deadline. Instead, I’m living in a picturesque little village, attending an acting school that’s tucked away amidst tress and ponds with one of the greatest cities in the world at my feet… What?!?
I’ve always loved acting. I’ve kept it in my life every year since I was 10, whether it was in classes or in my extracurriculars. There’s nothing like the family that you build with your cast. I loved the long rehearsals spent pouring over and dissecting every nuance of a script. There’s a thrill in inventing characters with the clues that the playwright gives you. You grow as a person as you delve into the psychology of these characters and try to find whatever truths you can that you can then relate to your audience. And of course, there’s nothing like opening night. Standing backstage, hearing the audience chatter, your hands start to tingle and your heart begins to race. The lights go down, you step onstage, take one last deep breath! Boom. Lights up and you’re off.
It’s like running a marathon, with adrenaline constantly pumping and your energy constantly shifting as you adjust to whatever you feel from the audience or what you feel they need. And when all is said and done, you (hopefully) get applause and get to go out for drinks. What could be better!
So why did I almost not pursue this? Well, upon deep reflection, I think it’s because I’m a very practical person. Yes, I loved theatre, but I always felt that if I were depending on every audition for my livelihood, the pressure of it all would get to me and I would fall out of love with the art. Much safer to keep doing it for fun and pursue something much more practical. I’ve always loved to write, so I thought Journalism would be the path to follow; a relatively steady paycheck if I could find the right job that would let me play with words and tell stories.
So off I went to to get my bachelor’s degree, and I coupled Journalism with a Philosophy/Political Science/English; I wanted to make sure I got my daily dose of human interest and grand questioning. You know, meaning of life stuff. I trotted along happily, but not ecstatically. The more Journalism courses I took, the more I realized that I didn’t want to do it. Writing political pieces, court room pieces, or, say, community events pieces was boring to me. I discovered that there just wasn’t enough creativity in the factually based career, which really surprised me. Being the practical person that I am, I didn’t realize how much of a creative outlet I actually needed.
Flash to the summer of 2011 in little old Fredericton, New Brunswick. I need a job, but no one is hiring. I try all avenues, from government sponsored student employment programs to knocking on every minimum wage establishment’s door, but no one wanted me. Answer: fill my time with theatre. The shows would pay me a few hundred bucks here and there, and for whatever else I needed I would just crack into my savings and essentially skate by. I got involved in everything I could, and my time really was filled. There was a point during that summer where I was working on three different shows at once and commuting to a small town an hour away to make certain rehearsals. Exhausting? Yes. Thrilling? Hell yes. All of this was stirring something inside of me and making me question, as I was getting ready to start my last year at university, what I really wanted to do.
Then came the show week of Hamlet. One of the roles I played that summer was Ophelia. It was daunting, to say the least. I dreaded playing the madness scenes, but with the help of my director I built something I felt was “right.” And when it came to the performance, it just took off to a whole new level. It was the first time that I forgot myself onstage; I went on, did my thing, and walked off not sure of what I’d done. Sounds a little scary, but it was the most satisfying thing. And somehow in that, I accessed Ophelia in a very honest way, and I understood her arc so completely. That’s when I knew: I want this experience with every character I play. I want to do this forever. And in a world where no career is certain, I’d be an idiot for not pursuing what is now so obviously my passion. So! Theatre school auditions, choosing the right school, ending up in England! Here I am. And now I’m writing to you.
Creativity is a funny thing. It’s, for one thing, not an exact science. And it can be frustrating trying to access it when, for whatever reason, you just can’t grab hold. It can discouraging, frustrating, depressing… it can make you want to stop. But when you do find it… it’s just pure magic, don’t you think? I’m writing to share with you, and let you know that everyone goes through the ups and downs. But if you go back and remember where you came from and why you chose to pursue your art, you might find yourself smiling as you remember the feeling of your hands tingling and your heart racing. Just remind yourself why you love what you do! If I can just act, go from job to job in the theatre and make some kind of living out of expression onstage, god how happy I’ll be! And if I write you and share these moments of doubt and hopefully hear back from you, maybe we can help each other along the journey by letting one another know we’re not alone! So.
Let’s start sharing.
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One thought on “Sam: I left the Journalism Path and Moving to England to be an actor”
Great post. You have captured well the way that creative force can just bubble through despite all the plans we make.
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