I could make a small book about all the things I saw/heard/did while in New York with Springboard, but I’m trying really hard to boil it down to what the overall experience was about, with a few details and ancedotes thrown into the mix! So…here it goes…
When people ask me how I liked this program, SpringboardNYC, the first thing I tell them is it literally changed my life. I know that sounds somewhat cheesy and vague but it’s the most honest thing I could say. I feel like I’ve not only gained an incredible amount of knowledge about the theatre industry, but I’ve also gained incredible new friends, connections, and I was reminded of why I want to do this crazy thing called acting for a living. I also feel that I rediscovered some parts of myself that maybe had been buried under four years in college doing work as a history major, a small school setting, and maybe a little bit of negativity I’d put over myself.
BUT those are all giant things to talk about. Each one could be a separate post. So let’s back up a little bit and talk about what the heck I was actually doing in New York for two weeks besides making life discoveries.
I’m on a plane headed to the City. My dear friend Stephen J. Thompson let me take over his adorable studio in Long Island City for the full two weeks (THANK YOU STEPHEN!) which was such a perfect location. The subway entrance to the 7 train is literally right outside the apartment, making it a ten-minute commute to the Theatre District in Manhattan.
A typical day in the program consisted of going to MTC at 9am. Then until (most days) 11pm we were booked. The groups took part in sessions ranging from Master Classes with the likes of Kathleen Marshall and David Caparelliotis to Q&A with Artists like Tony Award winning Nina Arianda, Tony Award winner Christian Borle, actress Amy Ryan, and even the creative team of Peter and the Starcatcher.
As if these amazing sessions were not enough, the team behind SBNYC got us tickets to Broadway shows, and man, do they know how to pick ’em. We saw Peter and the Starcatcher, Clybourne Park, Newsies, Once, Porgy and Bess, Soho Rep’s BEAUTIFUL production of Uncle Vanya, and I saw Venus in Fur on my own time. On top of seeing the shows, we got to actually stay after the house cleared out and talk with the casts and creative teams of some of the shows including Peter and the Starcatcher (met with most of the cast and the author of the play actually was there that night, HOW COOL!?), Clybourne Park (most of the cast), Uncle Vanya (we spoke with director Sam Gold), Porgy and Bess (almost all of the cast which was incredible…Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis!!), and Newsies! It was magical to hear these performers discuss their work with us.
When we weren’t absolutely exhausted from the day’s work, or we were given free time to explore the city, I got to hang out with some of the most amazing people. All of the other students in the program were just gems. It may be hard to believe that 37 theatre people spending two weeks together in close proximity would work (due to egos and God knows what else) but it totally worked. It was INCREDIBLE. We spent time going to other shows, exploring the shopping Manhattan has to offer, going to Willamsburg and the flea markets, indulging our eyeballs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, relaxing in Central Park, and belting out some tunes at a karaoke bar. I really truly believe these lovely people are some of my dearest friends now and I can’t wait to be in the city with them again. We have constantly kept in touch since the program ended via Facebook and Google Chat. We even have some online play readings planned for the upcoming weeks!
SO, what did I learn at Springboard? Here is a little list of some of the things that “magically” seemed to be reiterated from several mentors.
1. BE YOU. People on the other side of that audition table want what you’ve got. Not how you think they want you to be…but YOU. As Dave Cap said, come into the audition room with your “comet-tail” of personality- don’t leave it outside that room.
2. New York is not so scary. Okay, I knew this going into the program, as I’d been there a few times before. But never had I spent that much time on my own in NYC. I felt so at home and people were lovely. Also, beacuse of the amazing series that Springboard gave me on how to live in New York (everything from how to do taxes to how to get an apartment to the best walks in the City) I feel like I can actually make the City my home and it’s financially do-able.
3. I learned a lot about how to pick audition material. The process is always so daunting to me because it is a little overwhelming. But hearing several mentors talk about what they look for in a piece and hearing others do their pieces, it gave me a more suitable starting place to start looking. I’ve read 3 plays in the past week and am currently surrounded by books full of plays. SO EXCTING!
4. The job of acting is AUDITIONING. Not being in shows. So you’ve got to treat that as your job.
5. Actors do not get ahead by being pompus and full of themselves- even in the big city. You’ve got to be a genuinely nice person and pay your respects to those around you.
6. The 6 block rule. Don’t talk about anything related to that show you just saw because the producer…or his girlfriend…or that actor who might-have-flubbed-a-little-bit’s mom is probably right behind you walking out of the theatre.
7. Be open to doing LOTS of things! Try saying YES! (this was big for me because I used to be this way about stuff in high school and I feel like I lost a little bit of that spark- got it back, baby!) BUT at the same time. You can say NO. You have that right. Know what you can and can’t do.
Those are just some of the over-arching themes of the two weeks. But I learned an incredible amount. SO MUCH.
I feel like I’ll probably end up posting more about certain things/shows/people as I think of them. But that’s the scoop on the experience that is SpringboardNYC. If you’re reading this and you’re about to graduate or you’re a recent college grad who wants to live as an actor in NYC- let’s talk about this program. You NEED it.