Boundless Theatre

The Fear of The Unknown: Anticipating Life Post Drama School

Rosie Wilkinson 22 September 2021


When I first walked through the doors at East 15 I thought that this was it, the start of my successful career as an actor. When first applying to conservatoires like Rose Bruford, Central and East 15, this felt like the way in, the path to success, that all you need to be successful is good training from a top school and to come out of it with an agent.

During my foundation year at East 15, it felt like drama school was the be all or end all, which was scary as an 18/19 year old who didn’t know if she was going to be getting back in for the next three years! Now, three years on, I’m going into my final year of Drama School on the Acting and Community Theatre course (still at East 15).

I’m interested in working with young people and adults, children’s puppetry, theatre and television, so essentially, throw anything at me and I’ll give it a good go! My three years at East 15 have been and continue to be a journey of self-discovery and self-growth.

At the end of the day, work is work and the pressures of society can bog down our inner children who are screaming to be let out.

Although it’s an exciting and hopefully a prosperous year, I will say that the picture that I was painted entering into drama school life isn’t true for everybody, certainly not for me. I have met some wonderful, talented, hard-working people but in terms of knowing what I’m going to be doing this time next year and whether I will have or even want an agent, I have no clue what that looks like for me.

Yet, I have spent hours worrying about the future and putting so much pressure on myself to have it all figured out! During this past year in particular, I feel I have run out of creative thoughts and ideas. There have been times where I’ve questioned my place in this industry and even questioned my why: why am I doing this to myself?

COVID-19, in some ways, made me lose my creative drive and passion and from one creative to another: It is okay to feel like this, regardless of a global pandemic. Whilst there are some moments of absolute joy when doing what we love, that feeling of play can be lost.

At the end of the day, work is work and the pressures of society can bog down our inner children who are screaming to be let out.

It’s important to remember that that younger you aren’t gone. We will always carry them with us as we go forward.

When under stress and pressure, it’s easy for us as humans to forget why we love what we do.

We are not robots.

As creatives, we celebrate the human existence and the many hurdles we can face in our everyday lives.

In some ways, it’s what makes us so fun to play!

So why don’t we give ourselves the same amount of room and acceptance we would to somebody else? Generally speaking, creative people tend to be perfectionists, myself included. Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to tell us: Breathe. You’re okay. This pressure that I’ve experienced has made me reflect on my time in education as whole.

Due to our education system in the UK, students become used to being defined by their grades and performances, which I think is quite suppressive.

So, it’s no wonder that most young people and adults become obsessed with perfection when they’ve had to play a certain part for most of their lives when things don’t work out or go exactly to plan, it feels as if the world is caving in (the exact words I said when I didn’t do as well as I wanted on a practical assessment this past year).

I know. Mental.

If you really think about it, most people my age that are leaving university have never known a life where come September, their life hasn’t been organised into a timetable since they were the age of 4. I don’t remember not being in education. So of course, leaving is going to be strange, new and scary! I think I will miss the structure that full-time education has given me. It is comfortable and safe.

In the real world, especially in the creative industry, you are working on your own time and so often, you don’t know where the next paycheque is coming from.

This year, I want to focus on the power that a positive mindset can have. When I was on my foundation, I went into it wanting to enjoy it as much as possible because I didn’t know if I would be attending the next year coming. I went into it feeling optimistic and excited. That’s what I will try and do this year. Optimism, excitement and enjoyment. I’d love to hear from others what they think about this. What helps you stay motivated to do well?

Taking all of this into account for my final year and my future in this industry, I’m learning that taking a breather and remembering why you wanted to work in this field in the first place can be a good starting point if you feel stuck creatively.

This summer, I’ve been working closely with Boundless, learning about the ins and out of a theatre company and working closely with some talented people. In the same way I learnt that there is no rush to get into drama school, I am learning that there is also no rush to ‘make it’ in this industry. It can be a lonely life, working as an artist, even though you’re often surrounded by other people in exactly the same boat as you. What does ‘make it’ even mean to you? Everyone’s experience and expectations for themselves are different, there’s no right or wrong way to go about things.

There shouldn’t be any pressure to be a certain way. You are enough.

Rosie joined the Boundless team on a creative work placement as part of her studies at East 15. Boundless provides opportunities for students of all ages to experience working in a professional theatre context.

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