Hello again, my friends, from the other side of the world.
As I write, I’m sitting in the living room of my attic flat in Shepherd’s Bush, London. My flatmate, Gloria, is catching up on RuPaul’s Drag Race in our bedroom. The rain has stopped and the sun is just setting (at an early 4:45 p.m.). I am happy. I am SO happy.
I realize most of you reading this don’t know me, or what I’m doing here in London. So I’ll take just a moment to introduce myself:
I’m Amanda.I often dress in a way that takes the best parts of ’80s punk and fairy princess couture, as seen above. I study theatre & psychology, and I’m in London—the heart of the world’s most creative theatrical talent, in my humble opinion—to intern with the Jermyn Street Theatre, an off-broadway Equity house.
This is the view of our theatre from the stage. It only has 70 seats, but they’re all almost always filled. It’s really incredible the work we do at the JST; our team is committed to doing new works while meeting gender equity, so that 50% of our team on every level is female. Tonight, I’m going to see the final show of our current production; once the audience leaves, the stage management team and I are going to tear the set down completely, stay the night, and resurrect a completely new set for the next show moving in tomorrow morning.
We’re always doing something, and for that I’m grateful. The theatre industry is known for its instability, so anytime you can find stable work as an actor or technician, you have to jump at the chance. And doing even simple things like prop runs or painting sets comes with rewards—for example, the chance to op [slang for light/sound operate] the full run of a show about Virginia Woolf!
It seems like, for every bit of heart I give here, I receive gifts back tenfold. When my spring break trip got cancelled, my supervisor reached out to the Book of Mormon team to see if I could tour backstage; as a thank-you for showing up to class, my theatre professor (the great and powerful Mike Punter) offered me his own ticket to see the staged version of my much-beloved Amadeus.
Even just walking my favorite route through Hyde Park ends with a breathtaking view of the Italian Gardens, so-called for the architecture of the fountains inside. In London, I know that if I go outside, blessings will abound.
Many of my friends back home were unimpressed with my choice to study abroad in an English-speaking, culturally similar country—but this is where I feel at home. This is where I’m meant to be, and the prospect of truly beginning my life as a theatre artist in the city I want to work in is the most exciting thing I can imagine. What I’m doing with my days truly moves me.
So go where you’re called; go where moves you. You might just find yourself sitting in a completely new place, utterly home.