Theatre majors are often told they’re taking a big risk with their college education.
When Sebastian Cordero, a sophomore theatre major, started doing theatre, it wasn’t something he thought he would enjoy doing, but it ended up being a big part of his life.
“I started [doing theatre] in middle school and I didn’t really like it that much, but I did it because I was offered extra credit in another class. After middle school, I started going to a high school that didn’t have a theatre program, and at that point, I was just very interested in musical theatre, but I never was interested in doing it,” Cordero says. “Then, my junior year I was invited to do one of the plays at another high school, so I went to go do that, and it sparked my interest again.”
Cordero says half-way through the Fall 2019 semester is when he started to realize all the different jobs with a theatre background, which is how he decided on his major choice.
“The opportunities I’ve been given here are amazing. I think why I chose to stay here is because there are so many opportunities on campus. Beside doing theatre, I do a radio show, I help with SCSU TV, and it just helps expand my knowledge with the entertainment business,” Cordero says. “My radio show, The Ghost Light, on WSIN Radio 1590AM, is about theatre. Me and my friend Nicole started it our first semester here on campus. It’s fun to not only talk about theatre, but to talk to other theatre people about their experiences.”
Jenna Guluzy, a sophomore theatre and art education major, has been doing theatre since 2015 and has been in over 15 shows.
“At Southern, I’ve done a lot more behind the scenes and helping out with smaller things,” Guluzy says. “But in high school, I would do a lot of management and a lot of being on stage.”
Guluzy says she likes acting and being on stage, but she prefers directing and instructing because that’s the path she’s going to take after graduation.
“I’ve worked with kids in theatre and that’s probably my favorite thing, to instruct kids and high schoolers,” Guluzy says. “For a lot of kids, it’s like their gateway for not doing things that are bad. For me, it was something to do; helping people find things to do that are productive and help them out in other areas of life. Theatre and the arts in general just tend to help a lot of people.”
Throughout her time at the university so far, Guluzy has changed her major a few times but says she stuck with theatre and art education because she wants to be a performing arts teacher and director for youth and community theatre.
“When I applied to Southern and got in, I was a journalism major, because throughout high school I did journalism and I was really into it. I was ignoring theatre because it has a reputation of ‘oh you’re a theatre major you must want to go to Broadway’ so I tried to stay away from it, but I fell back,” Guluzy says. “I actually went from journalism to biotechnology to theatre. It’s been a wild ride.”
Because of the reputation theatre has, Guluzy gets many different reactions from different people in her life when she tells them she’s chosen theatre as a major.
“My parents were glad I was going into something I actually liked. The whole time [throughout the major changes] they were like ‘we don’t think you’re doing what you actually want to do, we think you’re doing what the world wants you to do.’ But, a lot of people from not immediate family, it was kind of like they were disappointed,” Guluzy says.
Guluzy says she feels she has to always explain why she chose theatre as a major because of how other people react. She even did her FYRE project, a first year student research project, on how some majors, such as theatre, aren’t taken seriously enough because of the stigma
of ‘what are you going to do with a theatre degree’ behind it.
“There’s a lot you can do [with a theatre degree], I’m going the educational route; which I know a lot of people do that as a safety net, but for me, it’s just what I want to do,” Guluzy says. “I know there’s the overabundance of people in New York City looking for their big break on Broadway, but I feel like there’s a lot more to it than just that. Not everyone acts.”
Like Guluzy, Cordero also encounters both support and disappointment from people when they find out he’s going to college for theatre.
“My family still thinks I should have backup plans, but they’re very open with me being a theatre major,” Cordero says. “When I tell my friends I’m a theatre major, they’re oddly excited for me because they know what I can do and they know if I’m happy, they’re happy.”
Cordero doesn’t know what he is going to do after he graduates with a theatre degree yet, but he agrees that the only jobs aren’t just on Broadway. He says as long as he’s happy, that’s what truly matters.
“I’ve always learned that if you hate the career that you go into, then you’re never going to truly enjoy the way that you live,” Cordero says. “Like yes, money is money, but the way that you choose to make that money makes or breaks the way that your life goes, so I’m like ‘why not just go for it’ and choose something that I enjoy.”
By Sarah Shelton