For four years, they spent long hours perfecting their performances: delivering the perfect line, getting at the emotional heart of a scene or bringing a melody to life. The 10 BFA in Acting students who graduated in May were ready to make their mark on the theater world.
Acting programs traditionally organize a “senior showcase,” a rite of passage that introduces these actors to the professional world. Last year’s seniors presented their work for Austin-area professionals through a showcase at the Mary Moody Northen Theatre on campus. This year’s students had even bigger dreams: a showcase in the Big Apple. And they were determined to make it happen, no matter how much work it took.
- Get started early, at the beginning of the fall semester. Meet every week for an hour after your last Friday class for the next eight months.
- Delegate tasks. Budget. Take notes. Use social media. Set up an extra bank account to store the money for your trip. Work together, and don’t hesitate to step up.
- Realize you’ll need approximately $8,000 to bring 10 people to New York and make the showcase happen. Raise money. Hold a bake sale outside of the Robert and Pearle Ragsdale Center every month (these bring in an average of $200 each). Start a GoFundMe account. Take donations during theater performances. Coordinate two “spirit nights” with a local Chick-fil-A.
- Assemble your showcase as a team, under the guidance of Visiting Assistant Professor of Acting Nathanael Johnson. Start with a stack of potential scenes. Read through them all and discard the ones that don’t fit. Think of the showcase as a unified performance instead of disparate scenes, and put it together accordingly.
- Present your plan and your progress to Sharon Nell, dean of the School of Humanities, who is so impressed with your accomplishments and dedication that she budgets $600 for each of you to go toward your flights and lodging.
- Research who you want to invite, then put out the word. Use every connection you have through your professors and alumni. Reach out to casting directors, agents and managers. Contact more than 200 people. Cold call. Follow up again. And again. Hear back and confirm RSVPs.
- Book the John DeSotelle Studio, a block from Broadway and Times Square. Book your hotel. Find a pianist to accompany your musical numbers. Ask alumni and friends to house-manage the show. Order flowers and refreshments so you can host a reception after every performance. Design and print an “Actor Bingo” card with everyone’s headshots and contact information.
- Wake up early and catch a shuttle bus together to the airport. Arrive in New York. Split up to explore the city — catch a performance of the production Sleep No More, stop by a street festival and let your inner tourist out to play.
- On the day of the showcase, meet at the studio to rehearse with your accompanist. Get the space ready. Take a moment before the show to hold hands and reflect on this experience together.
- Return home with experience, contacts, and, hopefully, at least two formal requests for headshots or résumés from agents or casting directors for each member of the class.
Catch the 2017–2018 Season at Mary Moody Northen Theatre
The Mary Moody Northen Theatre (MMNT) at St. Edward’s presents four exciting shows this season, with casts that include our talented students and a compliment of top local professionals. See what’s coming to the award-winning MMNT stage. And learn more about our acclaimed BA in Theater Arts and BFA in Acting programs.
By Lauren Liebowitz
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