I'm enjoying school a lot, but it's keeping me even busier than I was before. For most of September and the first half of October, I had classes and meetings and rehearsals six days a week (plus the occasional Sunday event) and on my longest days I was busy from 9:30am to midnight. But once our show opened October 16, my schedule got a little less hectic. The show itself was bigger than anything I'd ever worked on before, with some pretty complicated transitions that I was in charge of orchestrating; we had a couple of platforms on my side of the stage that were originally intended to be automated, but the automation was scrapped fairly early in tech and we had to move the platforms manually between acts. (I also had my first 10 out of 12 -- which is actually more like a 13 out of 15 for stage managers -- which I'd never even heard of until September). I learned an incredible amount about the theatre space itself and what goes into executing a big show.
I liked most of my classes; I had a history of theater class, a Principles of Stage Management class, a class about dance and opera management, a stage management seminar class (with grads and undergrads, where we talk about the shows we're working on and stuff related to that). I also have a class called colloquium every Friday with the rest of the grad design and management students which is usually (at least so far) boring, though we sometimes get visits from performers who are doing shows in one of our theaters, which is really cool. One week we had a group of British puppeteers give a talk/presentation of sorts; they were hilarious.
After my show closed, I tried to catch up on a lot of the things I wasn't doing -- like my assistantship hours. I've been assigned as the Production Manager for the black box theater we have on campus called the Armory Free Theatre (it's in the ROTC building on campus and has been converted from a tank repair facility, I'm told). We schedule student residencies in the theatre, where students submit proposals for show ideas and, if selected, they get a small budget to produce them. It ranges from fairly famous plays to plays that the students write themselves. I've been to a couple of the shows so far, and it's pretty impressive how creative they get in the space with limited resources.
I also already have my show assignments for spring semester -- a dance show that runs one weekend in February and a play by Tennessee Williams called "Not About Nightingales" which runs in April. Both have started having meetings every couple of weeks, and department-wide auditions (for the theater productions) happened in early November.
And I have a 10-page research paper for my Theater History class due on December 1, so I've been trying to motivate myself to work on that. I'm doing research on the development of the Commedia dell'Arte. The public library is only a block away from our apartment, which is really convenient, and we live about a mile and a half from campus. I've been trying to find time to read and write some non-academic stuff between everything else, but it's difficult. Fortunately, we get a full week off for Thanksgiving and it's coming up quick.
Being back in the Midwest has its ups and downs; it's nice to be in a familiar atmosphere (having grown up in Michigan) where for the most part people are nicer and there are trees and grass in abundance. I do sometimes miss the pace of life and the connectivity of Baltimore (not to mention the milder winters), and I imagine we'll end up back in a bigger city once I finish up here in Illinois. I do wish I'd explored more of the east while we lived there -- the beach and the coast, the state parks and Appalachian Mountains. But from here, we have easier access to places like the south, and we're only about six hours from the Michigan family, instead of 10.5.