I made a rash decision when I enrolled in musical theater school.
It all happened so fast. One minute I was living in New York. The next I was in Los Angeles – back on a school campus – taking voice lessons and dance lessons and eating in a cafeteria. Was it a dream? Did I really make such a major life changing decision that easily? Without thinking things through?
Yes. I did.
Musical theater school wasn’t anything like I expected. It was definitely worse. I want to say it was because I was going back to school, living in a new city (Los Angeles is definitely a city like no other – and not in a good way) and was living with teenagers.
I want to say it was because I was stepping out from behind the camera and putting myself on display that made musical theater school feel like a never ending nightmare.
Those were contributing factors, I’m certain, but what really made musical theater school so surreal for me was that everyday for two years I went to class knowing that I’d made a terrible, horrible mistake. I wasn’t supposed to be there – at that school or in Los Angeles. And I felt it everyday. I also felt trapped. Like there was no getting out of this. My pride also made it hard for me to quit. So I stayed thinking things would get better.
They never did.
I keep writing about these experiences – the teachers, the awful dance classes. That one time in improv class. That other time in improv class. Improv class really was the worst if you can believe it. Every memory, good and bad (mostly bad) feels like it’s part of some awful dream I can’t shake. I still question whether some of the things that happened were actually real or part of my imagination.
I don’t want to make it seem like I was totally innocent while at musical theater school. I wasn’t. But looking back I think it’s safe to say that when you’re in a surreal situation – where there don’t seem to be any rules – you can lose yourself. You can do things you never thought you would do. And become a version of yourself you never knew existed.
That kind of thing sticks with you.