Upping the Anti

Hey guys! I’d like to take a moment this week to talk to you about what I am doing in my program at the moment. Some courses have a heavier load than others, but in my program, everything seems to be competeing for ” class with the most assignments.” And of course all those assignments are due in the same week – that is to say, two weeks from now. Woohoo!

I have an essay on a significant contributor to the performing arts due for theatre history class. I have two sheets of drafting (architectural blueprints for a set design) due. I have a massive group project due wherein I have to do set designs, costumes, organizational lists and charts for every tiny detail of the show, budgets, etc.

It’s all a bit overwhelming, I have to say, and a lot of people are struggling to keep up. But, to make matters worse, the Ryerson show that I am assigned to is having its load-in this week.

Load-in week is the most hellish point of a show for those of us on the technical side of things. It’s the week that we move everything into the theatre space, and everything must go according to the schedule in order for us to be on time and ready for the opening night. Only problem is that, of course, nothing ever goes according to the schedule, which was already insane to begin with. It’s a high-pressure job, and it takes a special kind of person to not completely flip out about it.

Lighting plans must be hung, coloured gels for those lights must be cut and brought into place. There are a million rehearsals, set pieces flying every which way, costumes to sew and alterations to do. All this must be done in and between our classes, and after hours, leaving us little time to work on schoolwork. School days are now fifteen hours long in general, with me up and in classes by nine and working on the show until at least ten o’clock every night. Breaks are few, and I’ll be honest – I haven’t slept or eaten well in a long time.

I’m trying to maintain good health here, especially since I started working with my personal trainer, but when you haven’t eaten all day, and your stomach is trying to claw itself out of you to go hunting in search of food, and someone offers you CHIPS? Well crap. Looks like you’re having chips for dinner. I feel awful about it now, but I suppose that’s the way it had to go. It was either chips or starvation.

Only those who are able to step up and still get the work done will survive past this year. While it was not apparent before, now it becomes more clear to me who will and will likely not be staying on for another year, either by their own choice or the decision of our teachers. Some people just can’t hack it, and it’s not for a lack of trying. It’s just too much to ask of some people – “Give us your heart, you sweat, your blood your tears and your soul, and you might be able to find work in four years. No guarantees though.”

But it’s like a tough workout – it’s hard, and you want to stop and lay down, but you keep going, pushing past that inner wall, and when you finally can stop, you collapse, exhausted and glowing on the floor. And for the next day or so, your bones ache, but all you can think is that you don’t mind it – it’s the sort of ache that feels so damn good – because you earned it.

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