Friday, November 24, 2017

Advice for Prospective Grad Students: The MFA program at UCF, in partnership with Orlando Rep

I would recommend grad school to those who are seriously considering it. I emphasize the word seriously, because grad school is serious. It is intense and heartbreaking at times, yet there are astonishing moments of excitement and intrigue if you look for them. I came to grad school straight from undergrad. To be honest, I didn’t know what else to do. Having lived in the educational world for over twenty years, leaving made me jittery. Although I had earned a BA in Theatre, I didn’t feel that I had quite found my place inside the theatre yet.

Since high-school I’ve had a special place in my heart for Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) – I was very fortunate to be in a high-school with an annual touring children’s production. In undergrad I took a step back from this, but taught theatre in the summer at youth arts camps. During the school year I found myself missing having kids around. I took this as an indication that I should pursue TYA. I eventually landed at the University of Central Florida in Orlando whose partnership with Orlando Repertory Theatre, a professional family theatre with three stages and a myriad of opportunities, ultimately enticed me to come.

I was looking for an opportunity to explore my craft in a variety areas, hoping to expand my repertoire and explore components of theatre I’d previously left untouched. For me, coming to UCF felt like the transition I was seeking. I knew I was looking for more opportunities and a chance to continue my studies in the theatre. This was key in helping me determine whether or not to attend grad school. You have to know the direction you want to travel. For me, the final destination was a little blurry, but the direction was clear.   I knew what I wanted to learn, and this made all the difference in my ultimate decision. At UCF I could continue my theoretical and scholastic studies, but I also knew these would be harmoniously juxtaposed against practical applications at The REP.

While it is important to know the direction in which you want to head, it is equally as important to be open to the journey. Say yes to everything! Even if you are scared of being overwhelmed. The more you push yourself the more you’ll grow. The more opportunities you take, the more new avenues of direction will form at your feet. Since coming to UCF in the fall of 2010, I have garnered more variety of experience in theatre for youth, than I had in the six pervious years I had working in TYA. I was afforded eye-opening opportunities in fields like Development – where I never would have guessed I’d have any interest, but have come to find fascinating – and opportunities to work in the community with youth on the fringes of society – homeless youth and foster youth, who don’t often get the opportunity to come into theaters for classes or performances.

Jennifer Adams, Lucy Bryson, Amanda Hill  at One Theater World Seattle 2011

When I came to UCF I couldn’t have told you what I wanted to do, but my experiences here have helped me define my path (although sometimes it still changes). Without coming to UCF and gaining a broad range of experience in the theatre, I fear I would have been much farther behind. The connections I’ve made, the friends, the faculty, the staff at The REP, are all such great influences in my life, constantly pushing me to beat my best and explore uncharted waters. Grad school is a time all about YOU. You are the key component. It is entirely what you are willing to make of it. But if you are seriously considering it, then be ready to self-motivate, self-explore, and self-reflect.  Grad school allows you grow in so many different ways, but only if you’re open to it.

Amanda Hill
University of Central Florida
2nd Year MFA in TYA

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