Behind the curtain of Webster’s Conservatorywritten by Eric Ramirez
From late nights to early mornings, the students in the Conservatory sacrifice free time, the opportunity to fit in with the rest of the university and even sleep to create the art that means the most to them.
“It’s like being in a four year long boot camp,” Adrianna Jones, a senior musical theatre major, said.
Students are taught to be on their toes and always ready for more, from walking through the Loretto Hilton Center, to the moment they enter the stage.
“It’s almost like training for a marathon. Rehearsals are like the work out period so once we get ready to run the race we’re in great shape. We know exactly how much energy it takes,” Jones said. For these students, long hours have become their everyday routines. They’re generally in class from one until five. From there they have an hour and a half for dinner, because at seven rehearsal begins. Rehearsal may officially last until 11, but they still must set aside time for homework.
Junior musical theatre major Michael Williams said that Conservatory students are pushed harder than a human should be. He said even though it doesn’t always feel like it, the payoff is always worth it.
“[Actor] Tom Hiddleston said that the purpose for a Conservatory is that they ask you to do the impossible so that way when you get out in the world you’re all the better for it, and I believe that sums it up pretty well,” Williams said.
Due to their late nights of work and busy schedules during the day, Conservatory students are rarely seen on campus. This absence has grown into a misconception that they look down on and refuse to associate with the students not involved in the Conservatory. Lionel Christian, a senior stage management major, said that even distinguishing the Conservatory apart from Webster is an act of isolation.
“The Conservatory is a part of the university. We’re just a college within a bunch of colleges, but people don’t look at it like that,” Christian said.
Christian said a lot of stereotypes that are thrown out about the Conservatory are a l l one big misunderstanding, springing from a level of respect that seems to be lacking from students on campus.
While the students of the Conservatory see the stereotypes as a misconception, Williams said that most of the time some of the stereotypes are completely understandable. He said miscommunication is what really drives these stereotypes; however, Conservatory members don’t have enough time in their schedule to sit down and get to know the students outside of the Conservatory.
“If we were able to say anything to the university body, we would want to connect with them a lot more. But it requires a lot more from them because we can’t come to them,” Williams said.
Despite the lack of time to bond with people in different majors, Conservatory students have been taught a sense of family that keeps them close through even the hardest of times. Family is a word that is used frequently among Conservatory members, who form a unique bond after spending every day with the same people.
“Even if you don’t really know the person you tend to look out for anyone in the Conservatory,” Christian said.
Freshman musical theatre major Austen Bohmer said the main reason this sense of family has been instilled within them is owed to the faculty.
“They teach us how to be supportive of each other, which is why I think we can use that term family,” Bohmer said.
Yet family isn’t the only thing that the faculty teaches these students. Jones said that the faculty focuses on teaching them two big lessons; time management and work ethic. With everything the students endure daily, they agreed that they would be nothing without the faculty and staff that stand behind them.
“The biggest thing about the entire faculty is that they know how to push you in a healthy and supportive way. So we get pushed to our limits and they know how to draw things out of us that we never in a million years thought we could achieve,” Bohmer said.
But how to be great actors, stage managers or costume designers isn’t the only thing a student learns during their time in the Conservatory. Through the rigorous schedule and constant coaching, students learn lessons that are valuable to them in their everyday lives. Williams said that one of the greatest things about the Conservatory is that it doesn’t just train good actors, it trains good people.
Ultimately, these students are just like every other college student, except with a different kind of schedule. Unlike students in other departments, those in the conservatory work on their bodies, vocals, acting and art. And instead of written tests, their tests come when the curtains open.