You are a graduate, child of the theater! What happens after?

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Summer is just around the corner, which means the debut season is just around the corner. This may not be a big deal for many, and it may not apply to anyone reading this, either. But that applies to me, right now. I’m a high school student, getting ready to go out with a degree, which is a huge accomplishment in itself, I know, but it’s also terrifying. Yes, reader, I am terrified. I have spent my whole life in school, from my childhood until now, as an adult. Although I’ve had a lot of run-ins with “the real world” I know he’s about to hit me in a major way. Maybe you can understand. I imagine it wouldn’t be as stressful if I wanted to become a doctor, lawyer, dentist, or even a mechanic. So I would know that no matter what, I would have a job. There would be good work to be done, honest work, and that would take away pounds of stress. But this is not the case. I never wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, dentist or mechanic. All my life I have wanted to tell stories. I wanted to make art. I wanted to pick up a pen and fall in love with my life, every day. I always wanted this to be my life. And if you are reading this and are on this website, then I know you have a sense of how the arts are generally viewed in society. They’ll say “Find a real job,” they’ll say “This is more like a hobby” or “How are you going to feed yourself doing this? They call it” a starving artist “for a reason.”

I have done a very good job suppressing such voices during the twenty-two years that I have breathed the air of this earth. And I muffled those voices by doing twice as much work as was expected of me. I’ve always had to do this just by being a young man of color. People expect you to fail no matter what. Statistics say you were born guilty of crimes you will never commit. So what do you – how are you supposed to function – when you’re already juggling those expectations besides craving a life in a field that isn’t just hard to break into, but doesn’t always leave people who look like you in important rooms? I’m not writing this because I have an answer. I cannot alleviate your confusion or your stress as to which direction we will take from here, because I don’t know.

I discovered theater in high school and immediately fell in love. From the minute I stepped on stage, I knew my life had changed, that I had found the place to which I belonged. I became a playwright because I did not see myself represented in the shows that were played before my eyes on stage. I don’t come from a family that could afford expensive training or conservatories. I went to a public high school with a lackluster art program. Every card has been drawn against me. But as a writer, I don’t just have to rewrite my own stories, but rewrite those expectations. I know it’s not very linear and maybe it doesn’t make any sense, but I think it’s a problem for a lot of people, a concern that a lot of people feel. What happens after? After going through these steps and removing caps and dresses. What happens next? After homework is over and life is no longer dictated by a teacher’s schedule or schedule; after closing the curtain. What happens next? That’s it, nobody knows. There is no right answer. And if there is no right answer, there is no wrong answer. There will be good days, there will be bad days. There will be wins and losses. There will be rejection letters and weeks when no one calls. There will be jobs that we do for the sake of our stomachs, not for our souls. And there may not be any of those things. We can all leave campus and become superstars. Again, that’s the creepy beauty about it – no one knows that. There is no crystal clear yellow brick road for us to go down. It’s dark, hazy, and uncertain. But we do what we love. And as long as we lead with that love, and as long as we keep working twice as hard to achieve the goals that we know are achievable, nothing can stop us.

Summer is just around the corner, which means the debut season is just around the corner. All of this means that the next phase of life is about to begin. All this means is that there is nowhere to go but upstairs. So let’s open the curtains and start the next act of our life. Do not worry. It’s show time.

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