This post is inspired by a identically titled post by Devon Solorow Cox, a wonderful girl I had the honor of calling one of my freshmen while at Ithaca College. To read her post (which is much more eloquently written than mine) click this link.
So why this post? Well it's been an interesting weekend for me. Since last thursday I've seen two shows, both of which were in the development stage and had broadway starlets in the cast, I drove from Auburn NY, to Brooklyn NY, to Allentown PA. I moved into my father's house and began organizing my life for my upcoming NYC move on September 1st. I wrote a blog post about the dangers of contact slaps in theatre which has now been read over 10,000 times in the last 48 hours (which is far more traffic than anything else I've ever created in any medium, ever), I was hired to be a background extra for the TV show Smash this morning, and have since caught a bus to NYC and am now back on Manhattan thinking about what it all means.
Holy crap. That's a big ol' weekend. However it's been a big ol' three months. Really a big ol' year. One year ago today I was in my final week of preparations for my senior year in college. I was living with Priya Iyer, John Gardner, and Elizabeth Hake, and was ready for the greatest year of my life. I was preparing for fall auditions (I REALLY wanted to be in Plumfield, Iraq and I was, so yay!), and I had just been called down for Next Broadway Star, a musical theatre competition run by Broadway.tv. This competition is still on-going by the way, I'm now a semi-finalist and waiting for the next round to be scheduled. I had no idea what it would be like to be a mentor to Evan Arbor and Taj Harvey, and as it turned out, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My little brothers are all-stars and if their names ever come across your desk, hire them immediately.
Where am I going with this? I'm not really sure, but as a man who makes a habit of playing his cards close to his chest, I feel like I'm going to burst. I went to school for the first time in the fall of 1992. Every single fall since then I have returned to a scholastic atmosphere, be it Waynflete School in Portland Maine, or Ithaca College in Upstate New York. This fall? I move into my first "real person apartment" and find a job. What? That's not real. That's the kind of thing that gives me nightmares. In fact, it's the kind of thing that causes me to weep in the middle of the night for no reason, to call my parents and blubber about how this world is crazy, and to sit at home alone and wish someone, anyone, was present to hang out and steal my brain away from the impending terror that is the real world.
Now after all of that, it's not entirely bad. I am so anxious for the real world to begin, in a way that I have never experienced before. Every fiber of my being tingles with excitement and anticipation at flying into this world guns blazing. I have never been more ready for anything in my entire life. I am luckier than many in this profession. I have worked consistently since I graduated, in fact I have spent only two unemployed weekends since May. I don't say this to toot my own horn, it is to say I have no reason to be as trepidatious as I am. Yet I am terrified.
I am full on, crazy, flat-f***ing terrified of what might come, and also so excited for that terror to come to actualization, or not. Those two emotions course through my veins like a fire ready to burst out. I feel like a million dollars, and a pile of dung all at the same time, I am, in a nutshell, a college graduate.
Right now the future holds the Theatre at Monmouth and Gershwin's Pulitzer Prize winning classic, Of Thee I Sing!, the future holds a Brooklyn apartment, most likely a job waiting tables, and relentless auditions. The future holds laughter, tears, exhilaration, sadness, joy, laughter, sorrow, disappointment, resentment, etc. It holds all of those things, and I can't wait.
Am I sad that I don't get to experience Ithaca College's loud meeting, fall auditions, freshman party, greet the meat, and whatever else? Yes. Am I so proud of what I left behind at that school? Yes. The classes remaining, this year's seniors, and the two classes preceding them are phenomenal, never have I met a group of people who I love more wholeheartedly than them. I am so proud of what they have accomplished, and what they have yet to do. Especially my freshman, the current sophomores. Sophomore year is a bitch, guys, but it's also one of the most rewarding things you'll ever accomplish.
I've outgrown school, at least for now. It's time to experience the highs and lows of the "real world". But every once in a while? I'll lay in my bed, or sit in a chair, and get lost in the thoughts of the past.
I'll think about constant happy birthday's sung to someone's friend or family on friday after TA friday with my freshmen.
I'll think about review, the stress and wonder it brought me.
I'll think about Evil Dead: The Musical, my first show at Ithaca College and one of the greatest experiences I ever had.
I'll think about A New Brain, my first Main Stage production at Ithaca.
I'll think about Sherry Party, and the unity it brought my class.
I'll think about A Year with Frog and Toad, the first summer stock gig I ever booked in College.
I'll think about my sophomore years suite (yes Charlie Forray, even including you) and the joy, laughter, fun, and friendship it brought me. Never have I ever felt so close to a group of guys and I hope that friendship never dies.
I'll think about the end of sophomore year, and Graham Drake-Maurer's toast with a shot of whiskey to "The Ned Donovan School of 'F*** You' Acting", what I still say is my reason for making it through the review process.
I'll think about the first time I walked through Dillingham after review was over. It was two in the morning, and I have never felt a feeling so profound and so beautiful, and such a sense of belonging as I did in that building. That building was--I'm sorry, is my home and I miss it with all my heart.
I'll think about the summer after Sophomore year, Shakespeare and friends and 40 hours of Panera Bread a week.
I'll think about Junior year, being cast in How I Learned to Drive and how that experience shaped who I am as an actor.
I'll think about London. My junior year second semester in London, Flat 403 Edgware Rd, and the 5 other people who lived with me there. Those people shaped my abroad experience and I could never ask for a better group.
I'll think about the summer before Senior year. Meeting my little brothers, and knowing they were mine but they didn't know it yet.
I'll think about The Loveshack, the best group of four anyone could ever ask for, and our littles. We had the family of the gods. What we pulled on Ithaca College should reign in infamy. It won't, but it should.
I'll think about my family, who has supported me every step of the way in my process, and I could never have done this without them.
I'll think about the class of 2015, the imprints that the class of 2012 left behind. They are my inspiration, a light at the end of the tunnel, they are, in a word, perfect. They are everything Ithaca College needed, and everything that I needed to hold on to. I will miss every one of them so much it hurts like a fist.
But most of all, I'll think about the class of 2012. They are what have shaped who I am today. They are the closest friends I have ever known. The last four years have been the most life-changing years of my life. I would trade my time with them for nothing, the good and the bad. I only hope that my classmates stay in touch, and achieve the heights they were all meant to reach.
The past is something beautiful, something to treasure, something to nourish, and something to hold dear. The future is not scary if your past holds you up. Mine is a beacon. What I have lived guides my way towards what I shall live next. I would have it no other way. I regret nothing, I accept everything.
I am Ned Donovan, Actor, Singer, Fight Director, Son, Big Brother, Little Brother, Friend, Boyfriend, whatever else.
Ready or not, world? Here I come.
Photo by Danny Bristoll
(fac·to·tum | \ fak-ˈtō-təm) noun - a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities
I find myself hilarious, and I use this blog to stroke my own ego. Thanks for indulging me.