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I think the title of this blog is the most obvious and cheesy lyric choice yet but, let’s face it, Larson is always poignant when you start thinking about the passing of time. I’m sticking to that.

A year ago, to the day, I graduated from drama school. In wishing all of the new graduates luck and quoting the school’s anthem “It’s Just The Beginning” I’ve become very nostalgic and have spent some time reflecting on these past 365 days. It is tradition at the London School of Musical Theatre to pass on some wisdom to a new student arriving in September to help them out (or terrify them) for their year ahead. So, I’d quite like to write a little post as an updated version of advice for all those beautifully talented people about to take their first steps in the industry.

 Graduates of 2014, this one’s for you.

Now I have the gift that is hindsight, I can say that your first year in the industry will be an unexpected roller-coaster ride. I say unexpected because as far as careers go there are very few that you plan and dream the details of quite as much as a career in the performing arts industry. Of course, there are a very lucky number of people whose journeys will play out like a dream and it’s amazing to bask in their happiness (I’ve spent a lot of evenings crying with pride at professional debuts this past year). However, 9 times out of 10 your journey won’t play out quite as you had envisioned from aged 7, doing one-woman shows in your living room. It seems silly to say so, but remember that! You’ll have been told it plenty of times but it’s so easy to lose sight of that and cry tears of the green-eyed monster watching a friend’s debut rather than the aforementioned tears of joy. It should be all about the joy grads. So here are some tips to help keep it that way:

#TipOne: Pinch yourself occasionally…

…and remind yourself you’re one of a lucky minority (yes, it will seem like a large old industry at times but we’re still a minority) following their dream career. Even if you’ve finished a 13 hour shift carrying plates up and down 5 flights of stairs (yes, that’s what I do) remember that it’s all a means to an end.

#TipTwo: Pat yourself on the back for the small things too.

For your sanity’s sake I think it’s important to think of any achievement as a big one in your first, intrepid, year out of training. Things might seem like baby steps but they are all significant. From a good audition to (god forbid) actually getting a job don’t forget to take stock and note your achievement. It will help your esteem in the long run.

#TipThree: Keep your friends close.

You’re all in it together. You’ll need a network of people that you love and trust that you can call on when you’re struggling for audition material, need picking up off the floor when you don’t get a job or to chat to in an effort to calm your dance-call-first nerves. It’s also necessary to have a group of nearest and dearest who you can celebrate good news (and fight over press night plus ones) with too of course!

#TipFour: It’s a small industry.

That’s more of a statement than a tip. I guess it’s more of a reminder! We’ve all heard it a thousand times before but it still shocks me, almost every day, how everyone is connected. Naturally, there will always be some people in this industry that you’ll want to keep at arms length because of their negativity (amongst other things I am sure) but as long as you kill with kindness you’ll be fine. Plus, I’ve also learnt that playing ‘how many mutual friends do we have’ at auditions is a great way to pass the time. I dare you to try playing ‘do you know Ridout?’ and please report back any findings.

#TipFive: Enjoy every second.

This year will really be about finding your feet and learning how to get the career you’ve envisioned out of your head and made into something tangible (well, as tangible as an acting career can be). It’s not an easy process. I’m a year out and I still don’t have all the wheels in motion – it’s a Reliant Robin at best – but try to enjoy it as much as you can. Allow yourself to cry when you need a cry but start patting yourself on the back again as soon as possible. Get out of the house, find a show you only need £10 to see and get re-inspired. Sing in the rain, dance in the street and use all the world as a stage.*

*Was that sentence too much? Am I too much? Or is the rest of the world not enough? Answers on a postcard please.

#TipSix: Run your own race.

I won’t repeat myself on this one so if this is the first blog of mine that you’ve read then please reference this post on what I mean by that. I will, however, add one more ridiculous running analogy just for my graduation anniversary (mainly because I’ve been using MapMyRun far too much recently): For every 10 minutes of a marathon you may achieve varying distances for each but, ultimately you’re aiming for an end goal and to finish at your personal best. Which roughly translates as: Each year you may achieve different levels of accomplishment in terms of building your dream CV but you know your personal end-sight and you can only ever do your best. Just because one year you achieve less on paper than the last doesn’t mean you’re not going to end up where you want to be. I hope that makes as much sense to you as it does to me.

THAT’S IT!

Like with the tradition at LSMT, I could write a book of advice for what to expect for your year ahead. I hope that these select few nuggets of advice were of interest and that they will serve you in the incredible year you have ahead of you. 365 days later and I’m perfectly contented with where I am right now in terms of my career and I am a very happy individual. I can only hope that you feel the same in another 365 days time. 

Here’s the graduation anthem from LSMT’s own Charles Miller to set you on your way. Just give those lyrics a listen and you’ll be alright. 

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Final day of LSMT. Class of 2013.

“Down the road, around the next bend, who knows what’s ahead? But we’ll keep on and still keep in mind what so many said…”it’s just the beginning”…”

– Rebecca Ridout

 

 

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