"Isabel: It's no good, Mr. M, I've got to face it: I'm a bad loser. Got any advice for me?
Mr. M: On how to be a good one?
Isabel: Ja. How to lose graciously. With dignity. I mean it. I really wish I could."
-- My Children! My Africa! by Athol Fugard, Act 1, Scene 5
As many of you know. I did not get accepted to Juilliard this year. However, before I knew that...I had already made reservations to see the 4th year's (Group 41) repertory performances.
Sooooo last night at 8pm, in spite of my recent "rejection" from Juilliard...I was back at the school, climbing the stairs and taking the elevator to the 4th Floor to see one of my favorite plays of allllll time My Children! My Africa! by Athol Fugard.
I have a very personal connection to this play because I had the privilege of playing Isabel Dyson at Solano College in CA when I was 18 years old...and it was one of the greatest theatrical experiences I have had to date. I even won a local award for it...a North Bay Arty Award...which, to youthful me, at the time, felt like winning an Oscar.
And considering my whirlwind journey through the audition/callback day, it is especially meaningful for me to be seeing this play at Juilliard.
The lovely, smart and incredibly talented Virginia Veale played the role of Isabel Dyson absolutely beautifully in this production. (Yes, her name is Virginia also.) She is incredible to watch. Amazing presence. I cannot wait to see what her future career has in store!
And her performance was well-matched with the buoyant intensity of Sekou Laidlow as Mr. M and the grounded focus of Jeremie Harris as Thami. The play could not possibly have had a stronger cast.
I love, love, loved the show. And being there at Juilliard to see it...felt triumphant to me in a strange way.
As I was sitting in my seat at intermission, staring up into the rafters and letting myself breathe in the moment and enjoy being in this theatre space that once held such HOPE for me...I felt a twinge of sadness knowing that though they have not selected me for their Final Callback Weekend...that my feelings about the school have not changed as a result...I'm still just as in love with this place as I was last week and the week before that and the week before that.
It was sort-of like meeting-up with an ex-boyfriend and after spending a few moments in their presence...you realize that even though it's over and you know you can no longer be together...that you are still in love with them and cannot help but appreciate all the many details of their wonderfulness...all those little things that made you fall in love with them in the first place.
That was the experience of seeing this show at Juilliard for me.
I cannot deny it. I am still in love. And though I know that I will not be attending the school in Fall of 2012...it doesn't stop me from appreciating the valuable gift they're giving me tonight...The opportunity to experience this great story...being presented on stage with great actors...in this great city of New York...free of charge.
(Tickets to the drama school's student productions are free, BTW,...free!)
I love what they do here and I love the WAY they do it. It's just an awesome place to be.
So...even though I must admit...I was scared to come and see this show...(I thought it might be toooo crushing for me to sit in the audience and watch a show at a school that has just rejected me for admission)...I had to prove to myself that I'm not a "bad loser" and just come support the show anyway.
And I am reeeeeallly glad I did. Because, it made me realize that I can still be a part of this community at Juilliard, in my own small way, even as an audience member. I don't have to be "accepted" to do that. And, if their shows continue to inspire me and make me feel like I want to try again and audition there next year...I CAN! (Juilliard currently allows MFA applicants to audition for the program twice only.)
Or...if Juilliard is really not meant to be part of my life's path after all...I can still love the program.
Once in love, always in love...That's just the way I roll, I guess...with ex-boyfriends and graduate schools alike.
Still, there could be another lover, just around the corner...ready to sweep me off my feet!
We shall see how things end up with NYU this year. Still waiting to hear back from them.
But the most important thing that I keep reminding myself to do...is to stay open to what feels like the best future path for me. If that's grad school...as I have hoped and have been dedicated to preparing for...for soooooo long....then FANTASTIC. But...if all this preparation and blogging and learning and growing and maturing leads me to some other acting-related pathway...then, I suppose that all of this will have been a valuable and non-linear pathway to my future.
Ain't that always the way life goes anyway?
The process of preparation for these grad school auditions...has given me a great sense of purpose in my life...a concrete goal to work towards. So, even though the outcome at Juilliard this year hasn't turned out the way I had hoped, I am still glad that I auditioned...because the value that I've received from the journey is a gift that I will always have...and this blog, chronicling the whole journey...has been an education unto itself...like no other.
You see...I'm just tryin' to figure out what to do with my life...and these creative impulses I've been given...Don't want to waste my life doing something I don't LOVE. And I KNOW I love acting. So I'll keep moving in the direction of my dreams...of becoming the best professional actor that Virginia Wilcox can possibly be.
Gotta have faith that the BEST possible future outcomes will naturally occur as a result of my continued heartfelt efforts.
Soooo I'm staying open to the possibilities,...loving the things I love,...and trusting that following my true heart is always the best way...even if it doesn't make logical sense.
Thank you, Juilliard.
"Isabel: ...You gave me a little lecture once about wasted lives...how much of it you'd seen, how much you hated it, how much you didn't want that to happen to Thami and me. I sort of understood what you meant at the time. Now, I most certainly do. Your death has seen to that.
My promise to you is that I am going to try as hard as I can, in every way that I can, to see that it doesn't happen to me. I am going to try my best to make my life useful in the way yours was. I want you to be proud of me. After all, I am one of your children you know. You did welcome me to your family. The future is still ours, Mr. M."
-- My Children! My Africa! by Athol Fugard, Act 2, Scene 5