CU seniors head to New York for career crash-course
In March 2014, Brittany Handler’s brain was about to explode—but in a good way.
“It was the kind of exploding where if feels like you want to hang on to every little bit of what you’re experience and you’re afraid if you check out for one second, you could miss something,” said Handler, who graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a BFA in performance in May.So her brain was primed for the rush of experience, sensations and thrill of a whirlwind trip to New York City for the Theatre and Dance Department’s first senior showcase, during which a dozen senior performance majors auditioned before dozens of professional casting agents through the Actors Connection.
“What you learn in the classroom is extremely valuable,” Handler says. “But my experience in New York showed me some of the truths that you can’t experience in the classroom. … The feedback I got was blunt and honest and exactly what I needed to hear.”
The 2014 “Showcase” trek, created and organized by Assistant Professor Tamara Meneghini, was such a success that a second group of seniors will travel to the city in March. This year’s itinerary includes a gauntlet of auditions, a backstage tour and attending a professional production.
“Here, they can work with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival for the summer, and we feel pretty confident that we’ve trained them them well,” says Meneghini, who will accompany the students withDepartment Chair Bud Coleman.
“The seniors are ready for the next level, so it’s valuable for them to hear from these professionals and begin to understand the nuts and bolts of managing a business. It’s great on-the-job training.”
Meneghini meets with student participants weekly throughout the fall semester to work on everything from auditioning before faculty to grant writing, fundraising and creating their own marketing and publicity campaigns.
“Ninety percent of the job after graduation is managing your career and learning how to be your own agent,” she says. “We want our graduates to work, and we want them to work in the field. In the showcase they learn things we can’t necessarily teach them until they are ready to put themselves out there.”The students came back exhausted, having spent spring break hard at work. But the experience proved invaluable.
“Performance has always been my passion; acting has always been my art. But I must now make it my career,” says BFA performance student Sarah Joy Adler. “The showcase … is the next step in putting four years of preparation toward becoming a professional in the field. It taught me that I am in fact marketable in New York. I have been well-trained at CU, and I have the tools necessary to be successful. The trip made all the difference for me walking out of CU and into my future.”
Valuable, yes. But the showcase isn’t all work and no play.
“New York was a blur of learning. But I also had a blast spending time with my fellow students and some of the extraordinary faculty before we graduated to brave the world on our own,” Handler says.
Clay Evans is director of communications for CU Presents.