by Emily Wilson
Imagine, if you will, the very first days of your freshman year. Remember how all the hopes, excitement, and excruciating eagerness that had been building up for ages just kind of vanished into that black hole of all of a sudden realizing that you have no idea what you’re doing?? Of course you do! It was out of this spirit of uncertainty that I dragged my nervous and lonely self to an audition for Sock n Buskin’s first three shows of the season on my sixth day in Ottawa.
One could argue that trying to soothe anxiety by doing something that is generally anxiety-inducing (i.e. pretty much every audition I had ever gone on) is kind of like listening to sad music when you’re sad, but my experiences of both the initial audition and the callback the next morning ended up feeling very…relaxed? Your eyes do not deceive you, you did just read of the occurrence of a stress-free audition. I ended up being cast in the season’s opener, The Brother’s Grimm Spectaculathon, directed by Meg Sutton.
Meeting the hooligans I would be playing with for the next couple months pretty much obliterated any stereotype I may have held about “college theatre people.” I can honestly say that, in my experience, there is nothing exclusive or cliquey about the people in the company. There was, among our cast, a wide range of ages, majors, general interests, and previous experience, but we all shared a love of performing (as well as an apparent passion for abandoning the actual lines in the script in favour of our own rehearsal-to-rehearsal riffing.) The challenge, though, of being in such a fun show with such fun people, was learning to balance the increasingly demanding rehearsal schedule with an increasingly demanding load of schoolwork. This was something I had to navigate as a first-year, and it was definitely difficult. While it led to a few extra-stressful late nights, it got easier with practice, and it has absolutely given me better tools to manage my time. If anything, I’m glad I got a taste of balancing a busy schedule so early in my university career, because I feel more prepared now to dive into student life and all the demands and bonuses that come with it. However, if I’m talking about the stress being involved in theatre adds, I have to also say how the pros of having such a wonderful outlet and being a part of such a lovely group far outweigh the cons.
The load is immeasurably lightened by knowing that everyone else is not only dealing with similar stress, but is taking it on willingly in order to have the experience of performing. And, if there’s one sure fire way to make you forget about whatever troubles you may have, it’s getting to have a couple hours each night where your only job is to transport an audience away from their worries by gathering with your friends and doing the thing you all love.