Actors describe how they juggle responsibilities, advise students on how to organize and how to follow their dreams.
By Gabriela Rodriguez
Every semester students in this college’s theater program struggle with time management both on and off stage.
A lot of theater students attend this college full time, work full-time jobs and have families.
Theater sophomore Dalissa Roman, who plays a waitress in “The Servant Of Two Masters,” is currently enrolled in 13 hours at this college, has been married for four years and has 3-year-old fraternal twins.
“It’s definitely a challenge balancing school and family,” Roman said. “On days I have school and rehearsal I get home at 5:30 p.m. and am only able to spend a small amount of time with my daughters before they have to go to bed.”
With all the responsibilities in her life Roman said she knows how to focus on what’s important.
“Everything I am doing and all of the sacrifices I make are so I can provide a better future for my girls,” she said.
Motivation is always key to success in a hectic life and to her performance on stage, she said.
“All the brokenness in the world and all of the untold stories — I want to give a voice to the voiceless and let people know they are never alone in their struggles,” she said.
“You need to have a bigger plan and understand that what you’re doing feeds into that plan. No one is going to make you do anything. You have to constantly hold yourself responsible for your failures and your successes,” Roman said.
Another actor in “The Servant” is theater sophomore Lauren Hunt, who plays a sassy and flirtatious character named Smeraldina. She works 20 hours a week and is enrolled in six hours at this college.
“It’s hard for me to switch brainwaves,” Hunt said. “I have to be in a different mindset than when I’m at work, home and rehearsals. It’s nonstop.”
Between recent family issues, working in the morning, going to school and attending rehearsals every day, Hunt briefly considered quitting the play.
“I hadn’t found my routine,” Hunt said. After a couple of weeks of experiencing how much time and the pace each role needed she knows how to balance it all much better.
The cast keeps her motivated, she said.
“On days when I’m at 20 percent and it’s hard, they help me a lot.”
Having worked two summers ago in an acting summer camp in Austin, she found that kids also inspire her.
“They’re so innocent and they don’t think about if they look stupid. Everything’s really pure,” Hunt said.
Today she knows she wants to teach theater and continue acting. One of her idols is her mom, who worked in a theater.
“I grew up in the theater that my mom was part of. I even took my first steps there,” Hunt said.
Hunt offered advice on how to succeed while juggling many roles.
“You have to get yourself on a schedule. Go to school just two days and focus on school the whole day and plan everything.”
Theater is a great place to let it all go.
“Once you enter the theater, the world disappears,” Hunt said. “It can help you cope with problems outside of theater and focus on your character only.”
Theater sophomore Grace Taylor, who plays Beatrice in “The Servant,” takes six hours at this college and works as an intern at the Strain & Skinner Communication Center.
Some of her challenges include “focusing on being the character, bringing energy to the stage and not second-guessing myself on lines.”
“I was in high school when I thought of just stopping acting altogether because of a lack of confidence within myself, but I kept going because I realized I was already way too in love with acting to just leave it. So I just kept going,” Taylor said.
She is also president of the Theater Club, and she uses the little time she has before class or between her job and rehearsals to manage the club’s website and plan their meetings.
“It’s not easy but it’s worth it,” she said.
Her advice to students is: “Only juggle what you can handle. See where you have free time, and tackle whatever you can during that time frame. If you find yourself stuck don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice or to take a break and come back to it when your brain feels less muddled. Do not overthink, or pre-destine yourself for failure, especially when it’s only the beginning. That only adds unnecessary stress.”
Playing Brighella is theater sophomore Brian Hill, who is enrolled in three hours at this college. Like many students, he is struggling to find a job with flexible hours.
He said it is hard not to lose faith, but doing what you love is the right path.
Hill went through a hard time in his life and thought of giving up last year. He wasn’t getting any parts, had family problems and wondered, “Why am I even doing this?”
It wasn’t until he performed two monologues with a local band called “Voodoo Boogaloo” at J&O’s Cantina that he got the reassurance he needed.
“The reaction from the crowd and the feeling of performing is just amazing,” he said.
That is when he realized, “this is who I am and this is what I do,” Hill said, noting that he keeps going because of, “the thrill of it, the love of it and the spiritual fulfillment.”
One thing Hill loves about theater is learning different time periods.
“You’re a time traveler,” he said. “You learn from someone else’s perspective, and the problems they had can relate to real life problems.”
He advises students to finish what they start. “Once you make a commitment, see it all the way through,” Hill said.
It’s also important to communicate, he said. Hill said he has talked to professors about not being able to make it to class or meet a deadline, and teachers are usually willing to work with students who want to succeed.
“Use what you can to your advantage,” he said. “Talk to your boss and teachers. They’re willing to support the students.”