Life As A College Actor

Forget 'High School Musical,' This Is What It's Like To Be A College Actor

Balancing classes, homework, and rehearsals can be a struggle, but my passion for the arts will always draw me back in.


Being a full-time student and involved in two productions is no easy task. Balancing classes, homework, and rehearsals can be a struggle, but my passion for the arts will always draw me back in. Here are some tips on how to balance rehearsals and classes that I learned from my own experience.

1. Go to class

This seems like such an easy task, to just attend class, but many college students find themselves skipping classes from time to time. Whether you're a college actor or not, attending class is the best way to learn new material. Also, you might learn about some opportunities for extra credit that you wouldn't otherwise have known about.

We all have our off days where we cannot bear going to class, but make sure you know the attendance policy of the class you will be missing! This is usually found on the syllabus. Most classes only allow for one to two unexcused absences, so make sure you keep track of your missing class days. If you do decide to miss class for whatever reason, get the notes from a classmate! You never know what material will be covered on the midterm or final. Some classes do record their lectures, so if you do miss a lecture, actually watch what you missed. Even take some notes!

Notes from a friend or watching the lecture on your laptop is nothing compared to the actual experience of being present in the classroom, so make sure you put in every effort to go to class.

2. Be present in rehearsals

Rehearsals after a long day of attending classes can be draining, but being present and in the moment at rehearsal is key. When your director is giving notes, write them down. You don't want to be making the same mistakes twice, so listen actively and keep record of the notes given to you.

Also, don't forget to enjoy the rehearsal process! You are involved because you probably enjoy the craft so make sure to stay in the moment. Make friends with your fellow cast members and production team. With a full time schedule and constant rehearsals, making friends might be a little harder. Your cast members and production team are all there for the same reasons as you, so why not get a few new friends out of it?

When you are present at rehearsal, it makes the performance feel more natural. It also makes the experience more memorable.

3. Memorize your lines as soon as possible

When first given the full script, you might feel as if you have plenty of time before the off-book date. But, with classes, homework, and everything else going on in life, the off-book date will creep up on you sooner than expected. To avoid this, memorize your lines whenever you can. Depending on the size of your role, the process of memorization will vary in how long it takes. If you're a supporting lead or a lead role, try memorizing some lines as soon as you receive the script.

This might seem a little much to you, but waiting until the last minute with memorizing lines is very stressful. Last minute memorization might not "stick" and you will end up calling "line" more times than not.

Waiting until the week before or even the day of the off-book date to start memorizing lines is dangerous territory that you should avoid if possible.

If you do find yourself in the situation where you have none of your lines memorized and it's the day of the off-book date, remain calm. Try memorizing bits and pieces all throughout the day. Give yourself breaks when needed. Don't be afraid to call "line" at the rehearsal and if absolutely needed, use your script for sections that are not memorized. Most importantly, memorize your lines before the next rehearsal!

Memorizing can be a long process, so the sooner you get started, the better.

4. Plan your time

Remember that being a full time student is your number one priority. Make time in your day to do homework and study as well. Time management is essential. Plan your homework and study time around your class and rehearsal schedule. Even wake up an hour or two early to get some homework done ahead of time. Stay up an extra hour to memorize your lines. But, make sure you do get a well rested night of sleep.

Having a monthly calendar spread can help you put into perspective what needs to get done and when. Mark down all rehearsal times, class times, off-book dates, due dates for assignments and performance dates. Having it all laid out in front of you can help you determine how to plan out your days, weeks and months.

5. Communicate

When the rehearsal schedule comes out, make sure to check for any conflicts. If you have rehearsal the night before a midterm or final and need the time to study, email your director or stage manager explaining the situation. It's always best to be timely in your explanations. Communication all throughout the rehearsal process is essential for things to run smoothly.

Also, be willing to compromise. If you miss one night of rehearsal to study or do work, offer another time that you're available to rehearse. Everything is about balance.

6. Have fun!

You probably auditioned for the production you're in currently because you love theater. Remember to relax and take a step back. Enjoy your time in rehearsals and doing the thing you love. This is probably an extracurricular activity that you're involved in, so have fun!

This is so different from a classroom or library setting and it's something that not everyone gets to do, so enjoy your time rehearsing and putting on a great show.

Remember to keep a healthy balance of life, school, and rehearsals.

Popular Right Now

The Types of Musical Theatre

It's about more than just "Hamilton."

With the spike in interest after the opening of "Hamilton," I thought I would take the time to explain the beautiful world that is —

But what is musical theatre? Well, the Google definition is "a genre of drama in which singing and dancing play an essential part" but there is so much more to it than that. Musicals have so many different types, and so many aspects other than just what is seen onstage. Let's look at the different types of musicals: Book musical, Revue Musical, and Rock/Pop Musicals.

1. Book Musicals

A "book musical" is one with traditional musical with a story that drives the music and characters. This category includes: "CATS," "RENT," "Annie," "The Book of Mormon," and "Oklahoma"!

2. Revue Musicals

"Revue"s are a collection of songs, with a common element. This category has no definite shows dedicated to them, but they are still a part of the musical theatre genre. This can include a musical revue of composers of musicals, or a well-known actress (see: GIF of Barbra Streisand).

3. Concept Musical

A "concept" musical is where the metaphor or theme is equally or more important than the musical itself. It may comment on a social injustices. There may be dissociated plot line, or unacquainted characters. Category includes: "The Last Five Years," "Allegro," "Follies," and "Love Life."

4. Jukebox Musical

A collection of songs from a group or artist is called a "jukebox musical". These musicals may not have a storyline, but are created to showcase a performance. Category is: Mamma Mia! (The music of ABBA), Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash), Rock of Ages (Glam rock of the 80s), and Come Fly Away (Frank Sinatra)

5. Rock/Pop Musical

The use of rock or pop music (or Rock/Pop Opera) to further the story, usually with little to no dialogue. This category includes such amazing works as "Grease," "The Little Shop of Horrors," "Godspell," "The Phantom of the Opera," and "Next to Normal."

As you can see the world that is musical theatre is much larger than the beauty of "Hamilton," I hope this gave you a little bit of insight to the magical world that is musical theatre!

Cover Image Credit:

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

We Need To Give Theatre At Festivals A Chance

Watching theater being performed outdoors and in smaller places is the old way of watching shows.


With May being about Mental Health awareness, It shows that we need to expose people to the arts more often. The Orlando Fringe Festival is the longest running festival in the Orlando area. It provides an accessible and affordable outlet to bring the community together to create experiences through the arts. This festival takes place around the Loch Haven Park for about 2 weeks leading up to Memorial Day. It has around 500 uncensored performances each year and has something for all ages. Imagine something like this in every city. I feel like it would bring up the morale of each of the populations and get that vitamin D that everyone needs.

The artists that put in for the Orlando Fringe go through an application process and the cool part is for those outside Orlando that there is housing guaranteed for up to 4 people. That's something you don't hear everyday especially if the event lasts about two weeks. A festival like this is good for the soul and also good for the wallet. It gets people out into the community and provides exposure to the arts in an age-appropriate way. It provides an opportunity for people to go outside and enjoy the weather as we transition into summer. It's a perfect way for artists to showcase their craft and to expand their creativity. Its a prime example of why we should never stop learning.

If you are heading to Orlando Fringe from May 13th to 26th. I would check out multiple shows. Through talking to some of the artists, I found that the "How to Eat A Bear" Show is one of the shows to see. Luke Balagia and Mack Stine are the directors of the show. The show is based off a weird joke on a dating profile for Luke. These two met in an improv class 4 years ago and have been creating material ever since. They refuse to call it working because of it not being "Baller." It is a perfect example of if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life. With all of the love and care put into this, why wouldn't you want to go see it? The alternative is two men in the theater crying...

How To Eat A Bear Flyer Orlando Fringe

Imagine if the world was exposed to more of the arts, how much less mental health issues. Why do you think there is art therapy for those with mental health therapy. I've noticed that when people attend any celebration of the arts that they are happier people and make the best conversationalists. Being able to provide an alternative perspective on life is a beautiful gift that not a lot of people can give. With festivals like The Orlando Fringe, it provides a cheaper way to view the arts while going out into the community. Would you rather be stuck inside doing nothing or go out into the community and learn something about the arts?

Related Content

Facebook Comments