Life at Drama School: Two Months In

November 23, 2018

One of the things I've started saying since starting drama school in September is that I've got so much to learn and not enough brain to learn it in.

In just two months, I've already discovered so much about myself and the world of performing arts. Some of it is fantastic, like the way my vocal chords work and how I can shape them and modify them to create a whole new sound as I sing and act. Some of it is not so great, like the fact that, from a dancer's perspective, I have been standing up incorrectly for my entire life.

University life itself is hard work. Most of us our living independently for the first time, having to cook and clean and keep ourselves alive for the first time ever. On top of that, we're experiencing new things, meeting new people, and making a start on our adult lives. AND we're working hard in and out of class to try and get a degree.

In my opinion, drama school is just an extra level of hard work. You've got the physically gruelling aspect of having hours and hours of dance training a week, stretching you and building your stamina and technique. You've got to bare your soul to your classmates and teachers at nine am on a Tuesday morning in order to open yourself up to be an accessible and emotive actor. You can't just sing anymore, you've got to consciously raise or lower your larynx, understand how the vocal chords stretch and shorten to give you different notes, and sing expressively at the same time. The level of focus, concentration, and effort to become a musical theatre performer is unreal.

And alongside the work, you've got to think about how you present yourself all the time. Your professional life starts here, and the days of rocking up to class in fuzzy bed socks and a Starbuck's cup in your hands are over. Suddenly you have to look polished all the time, in correct uniform (including hair and makeup), and looking bright eyed and bushy tailed in a 9am lecture. You've got to present yourself positively, making sure you come across to everyone you meet as though you're easy to work with and get along with.

Yes, drama school is exhausting, and draining emotionally and physically, but I can honestly say that the decision I made to attend a drama school was the best decision of my life.

Already, so many positives have come from it. I've met some absolutely incredible people from all over the world. They are kind, they are emotional, and they are driven. There's no people like show people and I'm proud to have them as my friends and classmates. It helps that a lot of us live together as well so we cook together, eat together, and hang out together. I'm surprised there's been no murder.

I've learned about the muscles in my body and larynx, making me more aware of what I'm doing and how. I've far from mastered my use of these muscles and the techniques I've been taught, but that's what I'm here for, I suppose.

I've become more open, and I'm not as scared of failure or embarassing myself anymore. I've done exercises where I've had to look people intensely in the eyes for over a minute, which makes you feel exposed and vulnerable but at the same time a lot closer to the people in the room. I've been led around a crowded room by just one hand while my eyes were closed, which creates a trust and a bond that I've never experienced with another person before. I've learned to express what I'm thinking and feeling to other people, instead of just hiding them away so I don't come across as overly emotional.

And finally, I've learned that I can do a lot more than I thought I could.

Before I came here, I thought I'd most likely starve to death, and instead I've learned to love cooking and I keep myself fed with good, tasty food. I thought I'd never ever pass for a dancer, and I've learned the technique for the perfect flat back, which has eluded me for years. I thought my singing voice was just what it is, and I'd never be able to change it, and learnt that not only is that not the case, but I also know now how to do it.

Just to sum up; life at drama school so far has been exhausting, frustrating, overwhelming, and absolutely incredible. I can't wait to see where the next three years take me.

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