So I turned to other pursuits, although I continued to act, taking roles such as Frederic in “The Pirates of Penzance,” Banquo in The Scottish Play and the Caveman in “Dumble the Dinosaur.”
But I never thought about theater as a career, or as a life, until I came to Georgetown.
Freshman year, I remember talking to my friends about our senior year, our aspirations for the four years in front of us, what we would create, all we would accomplish.
Well, here we are, senior year. I come home most days, and I hear my roommates reciting Shakespeare in the living room or belting out a song in the kitchen (it’s a joy to live with someone in The Phantoms).
I dreamed of this, a place where theater was hard work, but then the conversations continued when I came home, the apartment filled with music and play readings and discussions. I dreamed of a place where all my classes were connected, and I could bring together anthropology, theology, computer science, history and theater. I dreamed of a place where I have great friends, some who actually really don’t like theater but are still there at everything I do, cheering me on.
Here, I met a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright when I was directing a play he had written. I saw a theater company from Belarus create beautiful, moving theater the year before they were exiled from their country for speaking out against a corrupt government. I have heard life-changing, encouraging words from people who are doing exactly what I want to do, people who are making an impact in the world though the arts.
But those I find most inspiring are my friends, peers and professors here. They have shaped me for the better. I came here as a lost, undeclared freshman, and I leave knowing exactly what I want to do.
I do not have a job for next year, but I am moving to New York to find one and to discover where and how I fit in. I am confident that I will succeed because I have people who believe in me, who are behind me.
I feel free, I feel ready to make this leap and I know that as I do, my friends will be there for me.
And though I’m not necessarily someone who believes in fate, sometimes I wonder. Because performing in “Race” let me discover devised theater, a theater class brought me to my love of anthropology and my inspiration for “Watermelon Season,” my senior thesis about migrant workers in our fruit and vegetable fields. Being a part of Nomadic Theater made me realize my enthusiasm for theater as social change that can also make you laugh. There are too many coincidences, or maybe it’s that I have found a home in a place that opens you up, ignites you and encourages you to bring your passions to life.
Now, when my dad comes to see the plays I’ve been working on, I sit next to him in the dark theater, and sometimes he is asleep. It’s a long flight from London after all, and I don’t blame him. But most of the time, I see the tiny tears in the corners of his eyes, and I know that he believes in me. I know because he sends me emails with the subject line “JOB,” and then asks if I’ve heard of this theater or this director.
It’s because of this place.
And when I tell him theater is my life, he says, “I’m proud of you.”
Courtney Ulrich is a senior in the College, a theater and performance studies major and an associate producer of Nomadic Theater.
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