I got into my dream school!!! Ahhh!!!!!
I got into my safety school. Meh.
If you find yourself in either scenario, congratulations on your acceptance! No matter where you find yourself, you will probably notice that at some point, your expectations aren’t meeting your reality. I’ve been thinking about expectations in my own career and how it applies to you all who have been working your tails off in your college auditions. Let’s take a moment for some real talk about what each of these acceptance scenarios can mean and how you can prepare for your high or low expectations.
High expectations can push us to achieve dreams we wouldn’t otherwise achieve! They can make us work harder and take bigger risks. They can also let us down when those expectations become unrealistic. Low expectations or no expectations can feel safe. They can ground us in reality. It can also feel great when those expectations are exceeded. No matter what your perspective may be, either of these scenarios comes with challenges.
Let’s imagine you get into your dream school and it’s the perfect fit. At some point in your journey, you’re likely to hit a snag - an argument with your new best friend, a roommate who always eats your leftovers, a campus that makes you feel insignificant, or a teacher who challenges your talent. Don’t let these get you down. You have achieved something amazing by getting this far. In my first year of college, my roommate drama was far more than I had signed up for and it severed friendships. It took me a while to make new friends. I signed myself up for so many credit hours and artistic commitments that I had a few emotional breakdowns. I went through a breakup. And all of that was totally normal.
Expect that no matter how perfect your school may be in your mind, there are moments it will let you down. Expect to be challenged harder than you ever have been. Expect to be frustrated. Expect to be disappointed. Expect to wonder if you made the right choice. If you don’t have those feelings, that’s awesome, but odds are you will experience some of these feelings at some point. Even the dream school can’t promise you four years with no disappointments. And don’t fear - those disappointments are the best preparation for the long road ahead.
Now, let’s imagine you are let down by your school choices. You didn’t get into the dream school; maybe you got into your safety school, or you got into a good school, but not in the program you really wanted. You can expect everything the person in the dream school expected. And you know what else? You may also be completely surprised. Sometimes we don’t end up where we wanted, but where we end up is better than we ever expected.
You may find that you have a knack for something completely different than you ever realized. The person who was on your decision committee might have wanted you more than anyone else and they end up being the mentor you didn’t know you needed. Maybe you wanted to be a BFA, but you got into a BA program and now you are taking outside classes that spark your creativity and imagination in ways you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. I had a student a few years ago who got into a great acting program, but was disappointed she didn’t get accepted into the MT program. I introduced her to a friend of mine who taught vocal jazz and an artistic match was made. After being exposed to new techniques and music, she has found a love for a new singing style.
When you’re a high schooler, you’re asked, “What’s your dream school?” When you’re an actor, you’re asked, “What are your dream roles?” My answer: I don’t really have any. The roles that have been my favorite roles or most exciting theatrical experiences have been a complete surprise. Your life will take you to unexpected places. Whether or not you go to your dream school, you are going to have a wild ride. You’ve chosen to be an artist and there’s nothing else like it.
So, what are realistic expectations? That is a debate that has spanned the length of time. Should we live in a sort of fantasy to persevere through a less than exceptional reality or should we accept reality as it is so we can take realistic actions? All of this is really up to you. The best answer I’ve come up with for myself is this… I can only rely on living up to my personal expectations. Here are some expectations I have for myself. And, no, I don’t always meet them.
When faced with challenges, focus on what you can learn.
Encourage art in others.
Lead with love.
Surround yourself with people who make you better.
Find the value in the person/artist you are today.
Acting for the Song Coach - My College Audition
Erica is a NYC based actress and an Acting for the Song Coach for My College Audition. www.ericaspyres.com
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March. That strange time of year when college auditions are over and baseball is just around the corner.
Wait, what? Baseball? What the heck does baseball have to do with theater? More than you might think (and no, I am not just talking about your school’s upcoming production of “Damn Yankees”).
Battle in the Box
Stepping into the audition room is like a step into the batter’s box. Think about it, you the actor are like the batter. You step up to the plate completely focused on the task at hand. You have done your prep work and know exactly who the pitcher is, what they are going to throw at you, and what you are trying to accomplish. Meanwhile, the pitcher is looking at you with a completely different agenda. They want to see what you can handle and if you can surprise them with your ability.
Sure, sounds a lot like every audition I have ever been on. The amount of focus, the amount of preparation, and the plan you make in order to ace your audition feels an awful lot like those first few moments in the batter’s box.
Then the at bat begins. You take your first swing. You get a piece of it, but hit it foul. The pitcher sees something in your swing and they make an adjustment. How do you handle it? Do you recognize what is now being thrown at you? Or do you do the same thing you already did?
This is no different than any auditor giving you an adjustment on your song or monologue. It’s no different than them asking you for another piece. They saw something in you, and now they want to see more. How are you going to handle it?
So we keep battling away, trying our best to be successful in each at bat. And sometimes we are successful and get a hit. Other times, we fail and strike out. And that, is the nature of both baseball and auditioning.
Fail Like a Hall of Famer
In baseball, failure isn’t only an option, it’s an expectation. Every time a player steps into the batter’s box, there is a HIGH percent chance that he is going to make an out (read: fail). So high in fact, that over the course of their careers, players who succeed only 3 out of every 10 times, can end up in the Hall of Fame.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Boston Red Sox legend, Ted Williams. Considered by many to be one of the greatest hitters of all-time, Williams finished his career with a .344 batting average.
What does that mean? That means that every 10 times Ted Williams had an at bat, he only succeeded around 3.5 times. He failed almost 7 out of 10 times and he is one of the all time greats. He is in the Hall of Fame.
As actors, it’s our job to audition. We audition a ton. We put ourselves out there on a regular basis hoping that we just might get into that school or get that part. We step into that room, give it everything we’ve got, and hope that we crush it.
More often than not though, we just miss it. And we are forced to face another rejection. But what if we can flip the way we think about our “failures”? What if instead of thinking that we have to get into every school or get every part, we realize that every one we do get is an unbelievable success? You might just end up in the Hall of Fame.
Stop and Celebrate
Home runs. I love them, you love them, we ALL love them.
There is arguably not another more exciting play in all of sports than the home run. I mean, picture this… The batter and the pitcher are locked into a battle. Pitch after pitch, neither succeeding. It feels as though this stalemate will never end. Then with one swing of the bat, BANG! The ball takes off on a long majestic arc, out of the park and into the night. It is amazing.
But I think the most amazing thing is what we do next. Because hitting the home run isn’t the end. We stop and celebrate. 40,000 people in that stadium stand and cheer for the entire time it takes the batter to round the bases. Why? Why do we waste a few minutes of time to watch this guy slowly jog 360 feet with no chance of anything going wrong?
It’s because we realize just how hard it is to hit that home run. We know the hours that went into perfecting that swing. We know how many times that batter has failed before reaching that moment of pure bliss. And most of all we know that these incredibly successful moments don’t always happen. So we celebrate.
So when you book that next role, or you get accepted to a school- remind yourself of all the work it took to get here. Remind yourself that you may not be as successful the next time out. But most of all, celebrate this moment of success. You earned it.
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Hooray! You’re a big theatre nerd and you’ve just arrived in NYC! There’s a million and one things to do in this happening place, but let’s face it, you’re gonna want to see some shows. Not only is going to the theatre an amazing and inspiring way to spend an afternoon or evening, but it’s also an essential part of honing your craft!
The only hitch? Ticket prices are so INSANE, it’s enough to give you nightmares!
Well, never fear, my friends, because I’m here to give you the down low on the best ways to score discounted tickets. If you want to learn more about what resources are available to you and how to best take advantage of them, read on!
1) TODAY TIX: Today Tix is a discount ticketing service that anyone can access by website (todaytix.com) or by downloading the Today Tix app on your smartphone. Today Tix has discounts for TONS of shows: Broadway, Off Broadway, and Off Off Broadway. Prices tend to vary by show and by performance day, but you have the option to buy your tickets WAY in advance, rather than just the day of. So plan ahead, and you can score a great deal!
Please note that TODAY TIX allows you to choose seats in a section of the theatre (Orchestra, Mezz, etc), but does not allow you to choose specific seats. All tickets in the same order will be seated together. Contact Today Tix in advance for information about Accessible seating.
2) THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND (TDF): The Theatre Development Fund is a Not-For-Profit Organization for the Performing Arts which works to make theatre affordable and accessible to all. What exactly does that mean? Well, according to TDF, it means that every time you purchase a ticket, “you are supporting a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to sustaining and sharing the arts and developing the audiences of the future.” Pretty awesome, right? You can get discounted tickets through TDF in two ways: TKTS Discount Booths or a TDF Membership.
TKTS Discount Booths: TDF runs 3 TKTS booths with discounted tickets at 20%-50% off regular prices. The Times Square TKTS booth (underneath the famous Red Steps!) offers Same-Day Discount tickets, while the Lincoln Center and South Street Seaport TKTS booths offer Same-Day Discount tickets and Next-Day Discount tickets for Matinee performances only.
It’s important to know that ticket availability is never guaranteed. Best to get to a TKTS booth first thing in the morning, or browse the real-time listings available on the tdf.org website or the TKTS app.
TDF Membership: $11-$49 tickets for many Broadway, Off Broadway, and Off Off Broadway shows are available to TDF Members ONLY with an annual membership fee of only $40 (the savings quickly pay for your membership). Not everyone is eligible for a TDF Membership, but full-time students absolutely are! As an added bonus, members can purchase additional tickets for guests - I’m looking at you, parents! For more information on TDF Membership Eligibility, head here.
Please note that TDF Members are not able to select their own seats, and seats can be anywhere in the theater (In my experience, the box offices have been kind about providing the best empty seats available). Accessible seating is available by contacting TDF directly.
3) STUDENT DISCOUNTS: Some of the best theatre in NYC is produced by independent companies, and most of these companies offer great discount deals to young members and students. Below are a few of the more popular discount programs. If you don’t see a specific company listed here, you can always check with the box office directly!
HIP TIX: Hiptix is Roundabout’s discounted ticket program for patrons ages 18-35. You can get 2 $25 tickets to all Roundabout shows, and it’s free to join! Register here: https://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Shows-Events/HipTix.aspx
PLAYWRIGHT’S HORIZONS: Playwright’s Horizons offers both a Student Membership (full time enrollment at a high school or college/university with valid ID) and a Young Membership (35 and under). Both memberships are free to join. Student Memberships provide 2 discount tickets (1 for you, and 1 for a guest) to each production in the season for only $15 per ticket. Young Memberships provide the same benefits for $25 per ticket. Register here: https://www.playwrightshorizons.org/tickets-packages/discount-memberships/
SIGNATURE: Signature Theatre offers $25 tickets to every performance for full-time students. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or ahead of time using the code STU25. A valid ID must be presented at will call. One ticket per each valid ID.
NEW DEAL: Theatre for a New Audience (in Brooklyn) offers discounted tickets through their New Deal program. Patrons 30 and under and full-time students (of any age) may purchase $20 tickets for all available performances. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone, or at the box office, in advance or day-of. Valid ID required.
LINC TIX: LincTix through Lincoln Center allows registered patrons between the ages of 21-35 to purchase 1 discounted ticket per production (typically $32). Patrons must register online at lct.org - registration is free!
30 UNDER 35: Manhattan Theatre Club offers $30 tickets to registered members of their 30 Under 35 program. Members can purchase up to 2 tickets for any MTC show, and registration is free! Join here: https://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/season-tickets/30-under-35/
4) GENERAL RUSH: If you’re willing to wake up early and stand in line, many shows (like The Band's Visit and The Prom) offer a limited number of discounted “General Rush” seats for that day’s performances. These tickets are available as soon as the box office opens and are first come, first-served, so you want to be near the front of the line! Depending on a show’s popularity, lines may begin forming as early as 6AM, 3AM, or even the night before. Rush lines are likely to be less busy during the week than on the weekends. A good tip for Rushing is to search the Chat Boards on broadwayworld.com for Rush threads. Rush threads are show specific and individuals will often leave notes about when they rushed and how busy it was.
Please note that some shows that sell General Rush tickets, also have ticket Lotteries!
5) LOTTERIES: Many shows (like Hamilton, Wicked, and Frozen) have now moved to selling discounted tickets via a Lottery system. The rules for each Lottery (pricing, number of tickets, when you can enter, when you hear back, etc) vary from show to show and can change at any time, so it’s best to research them individually. There are two types of Lottery systems:
In-Person Lottery: In-Person Lotteries require that patrons be present at the theater in order to enter. Typically, patrons can purchase up to 2 tickets if their name is drawn. Most Lotteries start accepting entries a few hours before the performance, and the drawing usually takes place about an hour before. You must be present at the drawing in order to claim your tickets!
If you’re not an early riser, you’re in luck! Some shows also offer Online Lotteries…
Online Lotteries are just like In-Person lotteries, but you can enter them from the comfort of your own home! Online Lotteries make their own rules and every system is very different. Some Lotteries can be found on broadwaydirect.com. Others have their own sites. Definitely research each show individually.
Please note that some Lotteries are CASH ONLY! Check before you go!
6) STANDING ROOM: Some shows (like Come From Away and Book of Mormon) sell Day-Of Standing Room tickets. These tickets are also deeply discounted, but are usually “subject to availability” or only available if the performance is sold out. Be sure to check in with each show’s box office directly!
THAT’S A WRAP!
So what have we learned?! NYC is a theatre mecca, and you don’t have to miss out because of high ticket prices! There are a TON of great options for discounted tickets, and you can reap the benefits of them all!
*** For a detailed and updated listing of each show’s discount policies, head here.
Know another great tip for scoring discounted seats? We wanna hear it! Comment below and spread the wealth!
Thanks for reading!
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