The World Outside Your College
Emily Anne Gibson discusses ways students can gain a better awareness of the theater scene beyond what they may be learning in the classroom.
American Theatre Magazine's March 2012 cover
"Awareness is empowering." - Rita Wilson
It's easy to get caught up in the theater community at a university. Doing shows takes up all your time and concentration. But I believe it's really important to be aware of the world going on outside the university theater, especially if that's the workforce we intend to join. Here are a few ways I keep up with the theater scene.
PTM Blog: My School of Drama has a blog with theater news that is totally helpful in staying in the loop. I mentioned it in another article, but it's great enough to mention again. It includes reviews as well as information about changes in the community and big headlines. It's appropriately called News from the Real World (//cmuptm.blogspot.com/).
American Theatre Magazine: I love this magazine. It's published by the Theatre Communications Group, and it's full of great articles about innovative shows, interviews with artists, and discussions on the theater community. You can get a subscription to the magazine (and read a couple of online articles) at //www.tcg.org/publications/at/.
The New York Times, Sunday Arts: Even if I won't be in the City to see them, I like reading reviews for the shows going on. It's good to keep up with that particular theater scene because even though it isn't the end-all be-all, some great stuff happens in New York. It also tends to have great articles that focus on a production but talk about more than a normal review might. It's a great big, hard-to-miss section in the Times Sunday paper, but you can read some of it on the New York Times website (//www.nytimes.com/pages/theater/index.html).
Follow the Tony Awards: Again, not the end-all be-all, but it's a big part of our world. It's good to keep up with nominations and winners, even if you don't watch the actual awards ceremony. Why? Well, one reason is that it's interesting to see what wins and what that says about the theater community today. Also, the awards are a major event for theater people (particularly those in New York), and following them makes us a part of that community. (//www.tonyawards.com)
Pay attention to posters: Advertising is everywhere, but honestly, checking out bulletin boards is how I find out about things happening in my area. Even on campus, there are a ton of bulletins, and I try to see what's on all of them. The Pittsburgh Opera, the Public Theatre, City Theatre, all of the Pittsburgh based theater companies, not to mention theatrical on-campus events like improv shows and student work… There is a lot out there, and even if you can't go to it all, knowing about it is important too.
On that note, check out other schools: If you live in a place with many colleges (like I do), don't limit your theater-going to your own campus. Go online and print out the schedules for nearby schools and see how they do their work. Seeing other colleges' work is especially important, not to compare with your own work, but to see how different schools produce different types of theater, in different styles.
Hopefully these are some helpful ways to keep in touch while doing theater in college. It looks like a lot of work, but once you get into the groove, it's really enjoyable, and it's great to have some knowledge of the world outside our university walls.