Dozens of students and faculty filled Moore Hall’s Kiva Auditorium Friday to see University Theatre present the panel discussion, “I’m Graduating. Now What?”
The panel discussed success stories and steps taken once graduating from Central Michigan University. Members of the panel included CMU alumni and improviser Randall Colburn, theater coordinator Kate Holst-Test and resident playwright Rob Grabowski.
“With my time at Central, I did everything I could,” Holst-Test said. “I explored all of my options. There are many jobs in theater that do not include design or acting, but you can still have a solid relationship with the theater business.”
The panelists urged students to keep their options open and to get their names out in the “real world.”
“If you want to be an actor, you have to audition—for everything,” Grabowski said. “You get a good reputation in the city by constantly meeting and working with people. There is no such thing as overnight success.”
Colburn emphasized how important it was to learn from rejection. He advised students to keep auditioning after being rejected for a role.
“You’ll get rejected like crazy out there. You have to develop a thick skin,” Colburn said. “You can’t take anything personally. You have to open yourself up to opportunities.”
Many students asked how financially difficult it was to live and work in the city of Chicago beginning in the theater career.
“There’s no reason to be a starving artist,” Colburn said. “You can move forward and be just fine financially. You don’t have to have a soul-crushing day job either. It’s easy to get things started in Chicago or other smaller towns like Seattle or Portland, rather than starting off in big cities like Los Angeles or New York City.”
A handful of students asked what was needed in order to become successful in the acting world.
“Patience is key,” Colburn said. “I had to force people to pay attention to me.”
Recent Jackson graduate Rebekah Trombley was excited to see University Theatre put on the event.
“I’m really happy that CMU held the panel,” Trombley said. “I want to go work in Chicago, so it was nice to see that there are many opportunities for me out there. It was also cool to see how all three panel members started here at Central.”
Holst-Test encouraged students to work toward finding their own personal fit within the theater business.
“Success in a program is walking out the door and knowing this is exactly what you want to do,” Holst-Test said. “Or finding out that it isn’t.”
Ceresco senior Jillian Weimer said she is confident with her choice to study in CMU’s theater program.
“I definitely think that there are many opportunities to learn and grow here at Central,” Weimer said. “You can connect and learn from so many professors. It’s a great place to discover and develop your craft.”