Semester from H*ck

I’m not always sure I chose the right things to study at university. The fields I chose both require creativity, time, and passion. Often more time than I can give when it comes to theatre. Earlier this semester, I overbooked myself and ended up not giving the best work I could to the show I had committed to. It was a mistake I can’t rectify, but I can promise it won’t be replicated.

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Alex and Sam. They worked really hard to make the show a success.

To the people involved with this show: I’m sorry. I wish I had given you more. It was the most involved show I’ve been a part of, and it deserved more of my time.

Having admitted my errors (in person as well as in this post) I spent a lot of time reflecting on why my semester ended up…stressful. That’s the nicest word I can use for what happened.

I put myself in a bad situation with a job at the mall, a job on campus and trying to design for a show on top of that. Lesson learned: priorities should be sorted at the start of an endeavor. Had I figured this out in January, the Pippin disaster could’ve been avoided. Yes, if I had known how stressful and painful the semester would turn out I would have dropped my theatre job (ie Pippin).

Apologies were made and lessons learned, yet as I think about how the Pippin aftermath was handled, I find myself upset at individuals other than myself as well. I’ll own all of the commitment issues and less than perfect work associated with my semester from hell, because that’s on me. But as a student and someone who tries to grow and learn from her mistakes, I have a few complaints.

Pippin Chapel
Pippin production photo by Mike Shafer

I don’t blame anyone else for my emotional craziness or my mistakes that resulted in a hellish 3-5 months. But I feel that university students deserve a certain amount of room to make mistakes. What we are studying is what we want to devote our time to, but we aren’t experts. That’s why we are at university, to learn about what we want to do, and faculty are there to help up do that.

The experience I had following my self-inflicted Pippin disaster was anything but helpful.

I was told in no uncertain terms that my work was not good enough to be part of the university’s program the next year. Oh, I was given an alternate option; told to “go back to basics”. But to be told that I am not good enough to be part of a program in the place I am supposed to be learning those skills from is difficult. Not unheard of, but nevertheless hard to swallow after 3 years of work and dedication to a program. I should mention that no one had said anything to me about unsatisfactory work prior to this meeting, and it blindsided me.

AU JournalismSo my overbooked semester was capped off with a vote of no confidence. What a great way to start my last year at university. This whole situation, among other things, is what made me question my choice to work in theatre. Thankfully, I am also a journalism student, and will be pursuing a career in writing of some kind.

 

My university theatre department is no longer a place I want to be, nor a place I feel necessary or wanted. Since I only have one class and a few scholarship hours, I will complete my theatre major. But anything more than that would’ve resulted in me leaving the department. If the faculty member that told me to “go back to basics” isn’t willing to help me learn those basics, then I don’t see how I can expect to get better or learn important aspects of the things I want to do. My work may be unsatisfactory, but instead of simply telling me “not good enough” and expecting me to fix it, teach me how to do it better. I don’t know how to fix my mistakes if no one teaches me how to do things the right way.

If this seems retaliative or petty, I’m sorry. I honestly feel that I have no place in my university’s theatre department after the conversations I had with faculty. I will be learning to costume this year rather than pursuing lighting design as I originally planned. I still love theatre and want to stay involved, just not at Augustana University.