A career in musical theatre is risky; as much as it brings joy to the people in it, it is a notoriously difficult industry and when I embarked on it two years ago I thought I would be ready for everything it would throw at me – the competitive aspect, the bitchiness, the blood, sweat and tears, the knockbacks – I thought I was fully prepared and going in with my eyes open. I was not.
Going into such an intense environment faces you with new challenges that you can’t always prepare for. During my foundation year I threw myself into training, but outside of the studio I retreated into myself and was made to think that my opinion and values were worth nothing by people that were supposedly my friends. I stopped talking to others, kept my thoughts to myself, didn’t know who to trust, was afraid to dress the way that I wanted to for fear of mockery, and the happiness that I had always held on to turned to bitterness and anxiety. I’d become so good at putting a confident and happy act on for everyone else that I’d even fooled myself.
It is difficult for me to look back on the person that I was a year ago as I can hardly recognise myself in her, and I don’t want ANYONE else to have to experience the knock in confidence that I did when I started my musical theatre career. This industry can give you everything you dream of if you don’t let it knock you first, so here’s my thoughts on MT training as I go into second year:
It is so easy to get upset about the smallest thing when you are in the bubble of MT training. Your voice cracking is not the end of the world. Just because you can’t get your leg up past 90 in a developpe today doesn’t mean you won’t be able to in a few weeks time. You fell out of a double pirouette? SO WHAT?! You are there to train! If you’re already good at everything, training in the first place would be a waste of time and money. Don’t let it be, and embrace the things that go wrong for they are where the improvements lie.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
This is the easiest thing to do when you are at college every day. There is always someone better than you, who can get their leg higher, who belts louder and stronger. When you stop focussing on others and make the time to focus on yourself instead, you will come on in leaps and bounds and feel so much freer for it. Everyone is on their own journey, so remember to focus on yours.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
So you’ve never sung in front of a group of people before? It’s time to do your solo in levelling and your legs are shaking, your mouth’s gone dry and all you want to do is run out of the room? That’s the perfect time for you to get out there then. The more you do the things that scare you most, the more you get past those fears and learn to enjoy them! So crack on and get up there in every group singing class even if you are bricking it, because otherwise what is the God damn point in you even being there?!
Remember Why You’re There
When I started my foundation year of training I got so caught up in trying to make friends that I actually forgot why I was there in the first place – to learn from the expert advice I was being handed on a plate by some of the industry’s longest serving professionals. When I started first year I was able to keep this in mind and gained so much more from my year because I managed to remind myself every day that I was there to train and whatever else comes alongside that is a bonus.
Coming out of a sweaty jazz class knowing you’ve pushed yourself further than you thought you could, or belting a song that you never dreamed you would be able to do is one of the most rewarding feelings on this planet, and having an incredibly supportive group of friends to help you through that is a true blessing. I’ve met some incredible people this year and am so excited to make many more memories with them over second and third year, in and out of the studio – so make sure you enjoy every second of your training as it goes by in an absolute flash!
I am by no means an expert and still have two more years of training to go on top of the two I’ve already done before I graduate. This post / rant is as much a means of motivation for myself to look back on as it is help for others, and if it helps anyone in some small way then I’ve done my job right. Training every day brings with it so much joy, and despite my rocky start in the industry I’ve made some amazing friends and memories in between that I am blessed I got to experience.
So here’s to musical theatre, all the love and joy it brings (between the blood, sweat and tears!) and another two more years of training that I am ready to embark on. Second year, COME AT ME!