1. Quarterly Reviews (December 7, Monday)
Last December 7 (Monday), we had our first Quarterly Reviews. Quarterly Reviews is an opportunity for Drama Faculty and students to check-in with one another. It used to be called "critiques" but they changed the name to "reviews." These kinds of events are something I would normally be "vigilant" about back home but I think that I am in such a good place where I feel safe and so I fully trusted that this event will only do good for me. I didn't really think much about it until we were all there.
I'm grateful to be here. The approach of the faculty towards the "students" (they treat us more like "artists" rather than mere "students") in giving feedback are quite different from what I experienced back home. My dominant experience with theatre teachers prior to coming to Juilliard was when a teacher or a person of authority would give feedback it would be to name what was lacking, or what I do not yet have, where I am not good at, where I am weak. This usually breeds a culture of insecurity, competition and anxiety. I always felt then as if I was never enough.
I walked away from reviews feeling a bit taller. Not because all I received were "praises," but I gained a clearer sense of what my innate strengths are as an artist, an actor and a human being. Then I was invited to explore areas in my work other than that of my default choices. I felt as if they began with what I already have within me as an artist/human being and then invited me to go to places where I can grow larger.
Prior to coming to Juilliard I had felt many times being wanted to be silenced when I voiced my truth and was called arrogant and selfish when I did in spite of the lack of support in my surroundings. The community I belong to now is equipping me with the tools to articulate what is going on in my mind and my heart even in the "neither here nor there" areas. When in the past I was called selfish and arrogant, here I am invited to have entitlement to my thoughts and take my space in the room. This is not out of largeness' sake but because when I take my own space in the room I invite others to do the same. And as I voice my truth the room also becomes larger and hopefully everyone else in it.
I remember asking a current student during final callback weekend last March about why is everyone so happy here? This cannot be real. Where is all this "happiness" coming from? I'm beginning to apprehend why. The community has such respect for the human being's "truth." Someone will ask me how I am, and I can say that I'm not okay - and that is okay, because that is my truth at that moment. And from wherever I am at that moment, the community would invite me to move forward.
2. Week of watching shows!
Another perk of being a Juilliard Drama student is you get to see so many shows and you get to see the work of students who have been training in the program longer that you have. This week we saw the second years' (Group 47) Coriolanus and Lear and the third year's (Group 46) As Five Years Pass by Federico Garcia Lorca.
3. New Work-study: Ushering
Since my stint as Microwave/Refrigerator/Water Dispenser Monitor for the month of November is over I decided to turn to Ushering work as my new source of income. I've had a total of 12 hours of ushering this weekend!
4. Annual Juilliard Drama Open-House (December 11, Friday)
My first Open-House is now one of my favorite Juilliard experiences so far. It was a day in which we could invite family/friends/loved-ones to spend a full day with us in all of our classes to get a sneak peak in what we actually do every day. My mom and dad for the day were my aunt and uncle from New Jersey. This was important to me because no one from my family back in the Philippines ever saw me "at work" or "in process." Their only acquaintance with my work was when they would watch me in a show - which is just the tip of the iceberg. My Tita Lea and Tito Danny were the first in my family to actually see how I work when "no one's watching." They saw me jumping and kicking in Darryl's movement/heavy cardio class, talk about lust through Sonnet 129 in voice class, voice out what I thought about ads showing women in underwear in Current Events and the Judicious Mind, improvise various facets of a relationship in Improv class, punch and get punched in Stage combat, and dance the foxtrot, rumba, tango and swing in Ballroom class.
I've reached a point in my life where I'm beginning to get tired of being the "outsider." When I say "outsider" I do not mean being a "foreigner" - I mean someone who felt different from everybody else and who felt not fully understood for who he/she was growing up. I actually want to feel loved. And I'm becoming more brave in articulating and owning up to that need and seeking out that love in as varied ways as I can. Letting family into my work is to me an important step in the process of bridging that gap.
This was one of my favorite days because it reminded me of why I wanted to go to Juilliard. This was a community which I felt had this enveloping love for the humanity of the people who comprised it. I see it in the way the faculty went and met our respective families, I see it in how they communicate to our parents in the classes they saw for the day, I see it in how students are influenced to be more generous and inclusive people themselves.
This was one of my favorite days because I felt loved. I felt that my fellow actors' family were my family as well. And there's no use coming back to my habit of crawling back into my cave, shrinking and disappearing from people whenever I felt that I was loved by no one. Now I can come out and take leaps because I feel surrounded by people who support me like wind behind my wings.
I am a Graduate Drama student at The Juilliard School from Quezon City, Philippines.