At the recent Dramatic Arts Invitational, a day of workshops that are part of the program admission requirements, graduate Spencer Charles Smith inspired 60 applicants with a short presentation about his professional development since he started at Brock in 2007.
After graduating from Brock’s Dramatic Arts program in 2011, he went on to complete his master’s in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, specializing in queer performance, at the Center for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto.
Spencer is now a playwright, performer, dramaturge and artistic director of the queer theatre company, Straight Camp. Theatre credits include Breath in Between (Crow’s Theatre/SummerWorks 2012), Spoon: A Queer Play (Straight Camp), Still Life (LemonTree Creations/SummerWorks 2011), among others.
Spencer is also co-owner of the famous Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto.
Spencer’s presentation included the following advice for new students:
1. Always say ‘Yes.’
You never know what will come from a job. You never know who’s watching and who’s looking for someone new to collaborate with on future projects. One job almost always leads to the next. Keep busy.
2. Take advantage of your resources and fail.
Theatre school offers you free rehearsal space, a free theatre and a team of people who all want you to learn and grow. Take risks, play and don’t be afraid to fail. This is where you will discover your strengths, your weaknesses and your obsessions.
3. See theatre.
The only way you will ever realize theatre’s emotional, intellectual and creative potential is if you experience it first hand. Let it expand your imagination and inspire you to recreate it, deconstruct it, or refine it.
4. Don’t burn bridges.
The theatre community is very small and we need to support each other. We need to keep the dialogue going because art is meant to spark conversation. Find at least one positive in everything you see. Plus, you never know who will be on the other side of that audition table.
5. Make your own opportunities.
Don’t wait around for someone to offer you a job. Keep writing. Keep creating. Maintain your momentum. People respect passion, ambition and drive. I repeat: Keep busy.