end of second year!
I cannot tell you how happy I am to see this school year through to its end. Many current Juilliard Drama students have called second year the "hardest year" in the training. It is the year when they stop praising you all the time and begin to bring to your attention all your acting habits and the areas in the craft you need to pay particular attention to. All of those were true and more.
I don't want to scare any incoming second years through this post. Each actor/actress will have his/her individual experience (I have spoken to some people who loved second year).
My particular experience was tough personally, emotionally, and spiritually. The craft work was just the tip of the iceberg. As soon as first year ended (May 2016) I had to leave the safe confines of the Juilliard Residence Hall (aka the dorms) and begin living in an apartment in New York City. I've never lived on my own prior to 2016 and so this new chapter was a huge adjustment. Take note that I was living on my own for the first time in a foreign country and culture, and that in itself was a huge new journey to undertake.
I learned to cook for the first time (I never learned to do so in the Philippines). My cousin from New Jersey taught me a lot from choosing basic grocery items, which household cleaning products are most efficient, as well as trouble-shooting minor domestic problems (i.e. dishwasher over-sudsing). I also had to find creative ways in transporting laundry in and out of my 6-floor walk-up apartment (no elevators) to the laundromat around the corner. As soon as I was getting the hang of a routine, I woke up one morning with several red bites in patterns along my left leg and arm. Only three months new living in a New York apartment and two weeks before second year classes officially began - already I had to take on one of the worst domestic issues a New Yorker could face: bed bugs.
That was probably my most traumatic experience this school year. My apartment had to go through the entire process of extermination which took more than 3 weeks. And I had to deal with a lot of things I've never had to deal with before: talking to landlords, roommates, the pest control company, the apartment super, setting up an appointment with a dermatologist in the city, washing ALL of my clothes and putting all of my belongings in garbage bags and keeping them in there until the three-week extermination process concluded - which coincided with the first few weeks of second year. The last "spray" ended on the day of our Tribute to Jim Houghton at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater last September 26, 2016.
I think it is helpful to acknowledge that Jim Houghton's death in August 2016 has made a huge impact in all of us in the Juilliard Drama Community. I don't think we've taken enough time to grieve. His absence continues to play a subconscious role in how we live our day-to-day lives, how we behave in the work, and how we treat one another. I think I grew up after Jim died. A human form that embodied light was lost, and I had to carry the light in me that Jim brought out on my own now. It was a huge task to undertake, given that I still saw myself then as this crybaby who was like a leaf in a foreign wind desperately seeking anchor.
I did grow up a lot this year. I've expanded in ways such as learning to stand up for myself other than rage. I've took it upon myself to speak to people even and especially in difficult moments, about difficult things - when before I would've just shut up and shut down.
Dear Second Year - my last post this school year
For all that this school year has thrown at me, it's great gift is a new way of being. I remember Jim Houghton saying something about seeing what reveals itself at the end of a process. I am so grateful that I got to end second year playing Irina in Three Sisters. I have learned something new about being a human being in playing her.
With the gifts I've received at the end of second year - a sense of a refined strength, an inner calm, a sense of flow, a sense of presence - I approach the next four months of summer with an ease and a calm unlike any other way I've begun a new phase before. There is no hurry, no need to accomplish anything. Instead, I feel more like waves crashing onto the shoreline from the ocean - there is no time, only what is.
I am a Graduate Drama student at The Juilliard School from Quezon City, Philippines.