View Full Version : Completely torn about options

05-02-14, 08:21 PM
I've been wrestling with this choice for a while. To follow my heart or to grow up and give up a dream.

I've been a stage actor since I was a teenager. Theatre is where I feel alive, theatre is where I make my friends, theatre is the only thing I have still been able to do amidst the wreckage of my bipolar disorder. It seriously kept me alive last November. I was deeply depressed, suicidal, but got out of bed every afternoon to shower and go to the theatre to do a show that night.

I went to theatre school for a year and a half in my early 20's and learned a lot but wasn't emotionally ready for the rigours of such a program. They're brutal. But I'm ready now. I applied to theatre colleges and auditioned last month. One school I think I shot myself in the foot during the interview, when they asked "why theatre?" I impulsively rambled about bipolar disorder which was DEFINITELY not the right answer. The second school was for musical theatre, my lifetime love, and they really liked me. I'm transgender though, and I've only been ME for 3 years, so they wanted me to go, get more experience both living and acting as ME and to come back next year. When a school tells you to COME BACK that's a good sign. They said they wanted me, I just wasn't ready yet.

I'm a good actor and I think my voice is decent. I've put a lot of work into it. Here's a clip I recorded like an hour ago:

But my other option is to put that dream down and do the grown up thing and get training for a job. I would choose Child and Youth worker, go to college, do my practical placements, and work. My psych nurse told me that the job market in that field is growing right now. But when I told my psychiatrist I was thinking of doing this instead of theatre school, she seemed concerned that I was making such a radical change of attitude. I'm not manic. I just change my mind a lot.

I don't want to put the theatre dream down. Even if I trained for four years and then started working as a Child and Youth Worker I could probably involve theatre. And I'd be able to afford classes, and I could do community theatre. Just because I go to theatre school, there's no guarantee I'd actually be a working actor. Chances of that are pretty slim, but I like to think I have the quirkiness and talent to maybe make it.

But the thought of not returning to those colleges next March and showing them how much I've grown hurts so badly. To give up my dream? Theatre is honestly the reason I get up in the morning. I'm willing to risk poverty to pursue it.

Sometimes the logical thing is the right thing to do, but sometimes the heart wins. If I relegate theatre to the backburner, to the second string, a piece of my heart will be dead.

What I'm thinking of doing is transferring into the Child and Youth Worker degree for a year, auditioning for those 2 theatre schools again next March, and then if I get in, go, and if I don't get in, at least I'll be in my second year of my second choice. I'm just worried that if I change my program twice in 2 years the student loan people would be like "whoa there dude, we won't lend you any more money".

Knowing me, I will probably change my mind several more times and go galloping into it every time. Heck maybe I'll become an architect. I play Minecraft. (I'm kidding. But not about the Minecraft.)

05-02-14, 08:52 PM
I suggest discussing this question with some theatre people who you respect. They'll have a better idea of what really works, which is what you need.

You know as well as or better than anyone, that theatre school isn't magic. Sadly, much of the acting world really is a big popularity contest, and in my mind your current level of popularity for acting jobs (locally of course) can be seen as a major predictor of eventual "success" in acting, at least in terms of employment.

But again, main thing to me is what you hear from respected theatre people "in the trenches".

05-02-14, 09:00 PM
Thanks. I have some friends in the trenches, but I haven't talked to them for a while. My current theatre friends haven't done much outside the university bubble.

My current local popularity as an actor is kind of funny. I get a few quirky roles. My most recent one was a clown in Midsummer Night's Dream, Snug/Lion. I frequently find out I was the director's second choice. I've made directors cry at auditions, but that doesn't always translate into roles. At one of the college auditions, one of the women on the panel had an enormous smile on her face through my monologue. That still doesn't translate into a place at the school. It's not all about talent, it's how you fit into the entire cast, and how you fit into the director's idea of the role. My voice has come leaps and bounds but sometimes it holds me back. That's where theatre school training would come in handy, but I could eventually get voice lessons if I went the youth worker route, after 4 or 5 years of part-time college. By then I'll be 35 though. Breaking into the business is a young person's industry. Fortunately I look like I'm 20.

05-02-14, 09:11 PM
Frank comment: Being vocally not a "natural" limits your roles permanently, almost regardless of improvement over time. Exceptions can certainly be found, but IMO it's not helpful to count on being one of them. Being typecast as "not much of a singer" is tough to shake.

05-02-14, 09:23 PM
I was a natural singer before I went on testosterone. Back then I didn't have the courage of comfort within myself to really get the roles. Now I have that, but am dealing with a sort of vocal "puberty". My voice has come a long way and I have faith it will get even better. I don't mind being a stage actor instead of a singer/musical theatre. I'm not a natural dancer anyway, which also limits my musical theatre roles.

05-02-14, 11:00 PM
Ah, that makes sense... you'll obviously have considerable background skill that's waiting for your new sound to catch up with you. Not a process I've heard in action, but it seems not crazy to hope. Be gentle; allow your voice to take the range and power it comfortably wants to take, and stay far away from songs that (while you may love them) don't suit your "new natural" in terms of sound production.

It's hard because sometimes people identify strongly with certain songs even though they might sound sub-par actually singing them.

I'll be interested and glad to hear how things are progressing, if you feel like posting updates. Best wishes for your travelling vocal folds! :)

05-02-14, 11:06 PM
First of all man, follow your dreams, but have a backup plan. I've always wanted to be an amazing singer, but I suck at it. To top it off, singing lessons are far too expensive at this point in time. I took enough singing lessons to get me started on my own, but I'm a bit shy about practicing my singing since I live in an apartment. At least I practice my piano (headphones). Anyway, keep singing dude.

05-08-14, 08:17 PM
Good advice here!! Talk to people in the trenches and follow your dreams but have a back up plan!!