Tag Archives: performance

The Show Must Go On

By Harrison Poe

As the fall semester passes its halfway point, you’ll notice a distinct change in the Theatre students on campus. The circles under their eyes look a bit darker, their voices sound a bit hoarser, and their feet seem a little heavier as they trek from class to class. Their exhaustion is likely due to their impending performances in the weekend. The School of Dramatic Arts produces around nine shows a semester, and students independently produce around five shows a semester. After using the first few weeks of school for rehearsals, the students perform a different play every weekend from the beginning of October up until the weekend before Thanksgiving.

However, the performances aren’t the difficult part. Rehearsing on top of classes can be grueling on a student, especially if they’re taking a full schedule of classes. Last semester, I took three reading-heavy courses, and was required to read a book each week for each of those classes. For any normal student, this would be difficult but achievable. For me, it was impossible. Like this semester, last spring I had classes early in the morning until late in the afternoon, so the only time I could do my homework was after rehearsal at 10pm. After a few weeks of sleepless nights, I vowed never again to have a difficult schedule while performing. In fact, several of my peers chose not to audition for shows because they wanted to focus on their school work. However, which is more important, school work or performing? As a theatre student, performing in a play is an incredibly important part of our education at USC, but on the other hand, we also have classes that teach us how to give better performances if we work hard in the class. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, but somehow, we make it work.

Often, Theatre majors are given a hard time by our non-performing peers about our work load. Sure, writing a short analysis of a play might not be as difficult to accomplish and understand as homework for a quantum physics class, but when you consider the amount of free time most actors have in their schedule, the comparison becomes a bit more even. Subliminally, we’re being taught that we have to work hard and fill our schedules if we want to be successful as actors. We have to learn to work late into the night even when we have to wake up early the next morning. We have to learn to give an outstanding performance even when we can barely roll out of bed in the morning. We are taught that skill isn’t the only trait of a good performance. In fact, I’d say effort and perseverance are paramount for any kind of artist.

A few weeks ago, I was taking the bus to school and talking with the bus driver about success. He told me that “each day is a stepping stone to get you where you want to go.” Every long night of homework, every early morning meeting, every late night rehearsal; these are the stepping stones we have. They are slippery and treacherous and demanding, but the show must go on.

Featured image from Pxhere

Harrison is a USC graduate who studied Theatre (BA, Acting) and was a member of the Thematic Option Honors Program. He is from Houston, Texas and grew up playing piano and guitar before transitioning to theatrical performance. Still a lover of music, Harrison plays the piano, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, and electric bass. In addition to smiling and waving his hands on stage, Harrison loves talking to people and learning about different places, cultures, traditions, and histories. One of the main reasons Harrison chose to come to USC and move to Los Angeles was because of the city’s proximity to the film industry. His love of stories gave him a passion for movies, and he tries to see as many as possible.

USC Kazan Taiko

By Erika Gomi

We’re so loud that the university doesn’t want us to practice on campus. This is one of the struggles the USC Kazan Taiko group has to face. We are always in need of a space that will allow us to play loudly on our drums. At the beginning of my freshman year, I decided to join the Taiko club on campus (Kazan Taiko). I had never done Taiko before, let alone a musical instrument, so this was to be a completely different type of thing than what I was accustomed.

Photo by Choo Yut Shing on Flickr

Taiko is Japanese drumming. We play on chu-daiko (a type of drum) with our bachi (drum sticks) that we make ourselves on retreat! Usually the main song is played on these drums and then a base beat is kept on the shime-daiko, a smaller drum like a snare drum. Taiko is a very loud instrument and it’s best when you play with lots of energy! We also have special uniforms we wear during performances. In addition to the club T-shirt that has the name of your generation (the year you joined – I’m part of the Wood Rams), you also get tabi (special socks/shoes) and special pants. Then during the performances you get to wear happi (a traditional Japanese coat usually worn at festivals) and hachimaki (a type of headband worn for many occasions).

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The Challenges of Earning a Theatre Degree

By Kevin Paley

According to USA Today, the average college student spends 17 hours per week on homework (studying included); that’s roughly two-and-a-half hours per day. Given that the average student takes between 15 and 20 units per semester, that’s about half an hour on each class. What would you say if I asked you to rank the majors or schools at USC in order of busiest to most free, in terms of scheduling? You’d probably think Architecture, Pre-Med, and/or Engineering would be the most time-consuming for the average student, right? Where would Theatre majors land on your list? Some might put it on the bottom of this hypothetical list but allow me to enlighten you on why it would actually be a contender for the top.

Acting, directing, designing, and managing in the theatrical realm are careers where experience is the foundation of the learning process. Homework for theatre classes involves outside of class rehearsal time (similar to group projects), in addition to regular reading and writing assignments. This classroom experience is vital, but the majority of theatre students seek to enhance their education by participating in plays and musicals at USC: both those produced by the School of Dramatic Arts and Independent Student Productions. Rehearsals for these shows are 6-10pm Monday through Friday and 10am-2pm on Saturday (on average). That’s twenty-four hours of rehearsal on top of pre-existing class and homework. One whole day each week dedicated to gaining experience in one of the least prosperous career paths. Why?

For some, the need to sacrifice a social life for the sake of volunteer-work in the theatre comes from the insecurity of landing a job after graduation: it’s the notion that hard work will eventually pay off. For some, it’s a simple and addictive love: acting, directing, or some other artistic platform in the theatre is merely what provides fulfillment in the college student’s turbulent life. No matter what the reason, once one joins the ensemble of a production, the next few months of his or her life are dedicated to making that work of art happen.

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