Okay. Here is me writing on the behalf of myself and all of my fellow theatre artists that are studying this profession.
I have been fortunate enough to grow up with family, parents, and a group of wonderful friends that were supportive from the get-go to all of my passions and pursuits. However, I know many of my musical theatre friends and colleagues that have struggled just to feel even respected for pursuing their passion. Even I, myself, still get the question and looming stare along with the words, "Musical Theatre? Huh. How are you going to make a living with that?"
This is the truth, and I think many of my friends and colleagues would agree with me when I say: the term "musical theatre" is so much more than you think. Behind our leotards, tap shoes and thousands of songs we are artists first. To define "artist", here is what I mean. The people who have been called to the arts are in it for so much more than the stardom or the satisfaction of having their name in lights. In fact, I know I would choose to do without most of that extra, frivolous recognition.
Artists are activists of change. We are influencers of that change to our world that we all are fighting to see. We put stories up on stage that represent humanity in such a truthful way that we hope it will leave audience members with a different outlook on life. We are vulnerable for you, so that you don't have to be. We place a mirror in front of our society and make us look at each other in shades of honesty that we have never before seen. We demonstrate what it's like to live the human experience. We recognize the paradigms of this day and age, and it is our responsibility to make the paradigm shift that will bring the world more love and light.
That is what being an artist means. There lies so much more beneath it all that I couldn't begin to unpack within one single article-- but that is what we do. We spread love. We aim to inspire. We fight for change.
Not only this, but people truly pursuing performing arts are badasses. We are pursuing our passion instead of our pension. Do you see how much courage that takes, to realize that you only have this one life and to choose the path that may be scarier but will also bring the most emotional and intellectual fruition forward into your life and others? That is the choice we have made.
I also can't say that I know exactly what I'm going to do when I obtain my degree after four years as a Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Musical Theatre. That is sort of up to the path of fate paired with the hard work that I choose to put in, myself. Even still, that is no reason to believe that theatre majors cannot successfully make a living in our profession while having a full life outside of it. In fact, I know many of my colleagues and professors that have proven that exact assumption wrong, time and time again.
The reason it's a "Bachelor of Fine Arts" is because there are so many job options aside from performing that we, as artists, are professionally trained to do. We are taught to be teachers, costumers, stage managers, writers, producers, directors, musicians, and choreographers. We are taught to do the first job so well and with such humility that we get the second job as well. We have a field that is in the humanities, and that spectrum is as colorful as a rainbow. See why I won't need to worry about waiting anyone's tables, now?
In short, I hope whatever doubt existed about us is now dissolved into thin air. I hope it is realized that we are more than just time-steps and chorus lines. We are lovers. We are activists. We are humans, and this is what we do.