It's pretty fabulous, to say the least.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater is an incredible company. I work in their education department (consisting of three people year round, myself, and another intern), and the work they do their is ridiculously far-reaching, inspiring, and profound. Not to mention the fact that the people that work there are gems. Sometimes I wish they'd be a little more forward and vocal about their expectations of me (all I ever hear are positive things...even when I know I did something wrong...which concerns me a little...haha). But still, I think that shows how much they value me as a student who is committing 300 hours of free work to them. They've been great to me, and I hope I've been as much help to them as they have been to me.
Working here has given me three take-home messages.
One: Employers, even in prestigious institutions, can be friendly and understanding. I've had a few different bosses in the past with extremely different ways of treating their employees. One was a devastatingly innerly ugly person who I seriously thought was on her period every day of the year because she was such a raging bitch. Another shared way too much about her personal life, but was at least welcoming and liked me. Because of these different encounters with employers, I get super self conscious about the amount of information I share about myself in the workplace with supervisors and employers. But because my supervisors at CST are so friendly and hopeful that my experience there is valuable to me, we can joke around, share stupid stories about ourselves, and even make fun of how difficult the work we have to do is. They've seriously helped me to let my guard down so that I can learn about myself as an employee. And what I've learned is...
Two: I am an awkward employee. Because of these old bosses, my first instinct when entering a business environment is that everything is strictly business. So I kind of seem like a pretentious bitch who only cares about getting shit DONE. I feel super awesome when I get shit done fast and well. And I'm proud of my work...I think of each thing I do well, my bosses see as an affirmation of why they hired me...and turning stuff in makes me feel like a puppy eager to be loved. If I show them the best work they've ever seen, of course they'll like me. But many daily tasks I'm given don't require much thought, so why would they say "Hey, I knew I was right to hire her" when I just give them a daily message? There are other, more normal ways to get employers to like you. Such as being personable and easy to talk to, which CST has super helped me with. I doubt I've helped them as much as they've helped me, and I hope I get to convey that to them without sounding too cliche.
|Our Director, Kirsten Kelley|
Three: I am not so sure Theatre Educational Outreach is for me...don't get me wrong, I've loved working here so much, but I think I need to interact with people more. For some reason, I feel more than ever that the line of work I go into has to have some element of changing peoples' lives directly; like, with my seeing the results. During the rehearsals with CPS students for Hamlet, the best days were when I got to work with a few students on their scene, or on projection, or on character interpretation. I witnessed their minds shifting, their incredible capacity for creativity, the power and passion they found in themselves onstage. Even with the limited interaction I had with them - I became so attached to and proud of each of them. Oh - OH, the tears that were shed on our last performance day, let me tell you.
|Text Work on the Stage|
The last student I said goodbye to was a girl I worked with on her projection - Kim. The most physically and vocally girly girl you'd ever meet. She played a man in several scenes, and the physicality and vocality of that she had struggled with through the whole process. Within the last few days of rehearsal, she approached me and told me that she should probably practice this. Since I have some background in singing and performance, I could hear the changes that she needed to make in the placement of her voice and we did all these weird random vocal things to adjust how her words sounded. The last thing I told her was to throw her voice to the "Exit" sign at the back of the hallway we were practicing in, and when she did, everyone in the hallway stopped talking and looked at her because that sound had NEVER come out of her voice before. They got excited too! She rocked the performance, of course, and when it came time to say goodbye, she hugged me and just started bawling. I started telling her how great she was in the show, how proud I was of her, and how she was going to use that voice we found to do amazing things in life. Then I started bawling. I don't think I could forget that. And I know there are few careers in life that allow you to make that much of an impact on somebody, but I think I could be good at that.
|Kim (left) and Carmen (right)|
My mom's a teacher - a seriously good teacher. For some reason, I decided that I didn't want to teach until later in life...I wanted (and still want) to explore things that wouldn't be open to me later in life, once I'm settled in a set career and family (maybe?). The ideal I see for myself is either diving into a professional work environment and getting on my way to becoming "Somebody," or traveling (A LOT). But like...the first would require me basically going up against the world on a breaking down struggle-bus, and the other would force me to live a life that financially and lonesomely I just can't see myself managing. For the longest time, I've seen so many professions -middle-class professions- as settling for something less than what people really wanted in life. But what happens when those are the things that truly make you happy? Is it really so terrible to rejoice in what society deems as "littler things?"
I feel a time coming, fairly soon, in which I'll have to recalibrate my expectations regarding happiness. And not realistically according to society, realistically according to MYSELF. It's kind of terrifying. But if I don't, society will see me as a success, and to an extent, so will I. But if my goal in life is happiness itself, I'll know I have failed.