10-Month Fellowship. 9 Major Takeaways.

By Annie Sears

As the curtain falls on the 2018–19 season, our Fellows (including the author of this blog) are packing up their desks and preparing for their next adventure. Some will stay here at A.C.T., and others are starting jobs at other Bay Area nonprofits. Some are moving across the country to begin freelance careers, and others aren’t sure what’s next. We may be dispersing moving forward, but for the last ten months, we’ve been united in an unforgettable experience.

The goodbyes are hard, and I’m caught up in the nostalgia of it all. As I reflect on all I’ve learned through my Fellowship, I’ve distilled nine tidbits of advice I’d have offered pre-Fellowship Annie, nine tidbits of advice for the person who will sit in my seat next season:

1. Get to know the other fellows. You’re sure to have a lot in common—they’re theater people, after all! Having a support system of like-passioned people who truly understand the in-and-outs of your job will prove invaluable. Also, you’re the theater-makers of tomorrow. It’s highly likely you’ll cross paths again later in your professional careers, and how fun will it be to work with an old friend (a “fella,” if you will)?

Some of the 2018–19 A.C.T. Fellows on the steps in The Geary, smiling and looking all dapper.

2. Decorate your desk. You’ll be spending a lot of time at work, and you’ll want it to feel as personalized as possible.

3. Attend A.C.T.’s opening night parties. It means you’ll lose a little sleep, but it’s important to celebrate each milestone of the season. So toast a job well done with those you did the job with. Plus: FREE FOOD.

Some 2018–19 A.C.T. Fellows at the opening night of Men on Boats.

4. Take advantage of FREE PLAY TICKETS! There is so much incredible art happening around the Bay Area, and you’re able to attend a lot of it for free with your A.C.T. ID. I saw over 40 free productions during my fellowship, and my artistic imagination is broader for it. If you’re curious about a show that’s not playing, check A.C.T.’s library. There are 10,000 titles in there—you’ll find something that piques your interest.

5. Ask lots of questions. Sit in on mainstage rehearsal and watch a master director do their thing. Join the literary committee to learn what A.C.T.’s Artistic Department looks for when selecting a season. See if you can sit in the stage manager’s booth during a performance. Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities, and don’t be afraid to reveal your ignorance—you’re here to learn!

6. Share your ideas. You’re here for a limited time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact.

7. Consistently remind yourself that you are lucky to be doing what you love. Working in the arts requires a lot of long days and late nights, especially once the Fellowship Project is in full swing. The stress of it will try to swallow you whole. Don’t let it. And to do that, you’ll have to . . .

The team behind The Revolutionists, A.C.T.'s 2018–19 Fellowship Project. Photo by Jay Yamada.

8. Encourage self-care. My Fellows’ cohort was really good about doing this for one another, and I’m grateful for the people who reminded me that rest is an essential component of productivity.

9. You’re here first and foremost to learn about A.C.T., but you’re also here to learn about the Bay Area. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Go ice skating in Union Square during the holidays. Sing along to a film at the Castro theater. Ferry up to Marin and hike around Muir Woods. Write your own fortune at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Spend all your quarters at the Musée Mechanique. Discover the places you won’t find on the “101 Things to Do In San Francisco” lists. (And we’re about to come full circle: if you’re buds with the other fellows, you’ll have lots of people to explore with!)

Some 2018–19 A.C.T. Fellows before an "Exploratorium After Dark" event. Pro-tip: Thursday nights are adult nights, which means discounted tickets!

Over the last ten months, I’ve contributed 12 articles for Words on Plays, eight for mainstage programs, and 53 blogs, in addition to lots of other random projects. That’s well over 50,000 words, and with each syllable, I’ve refined my passions, honed existing talents, and acquired all sorts of new skills. So A.C.T., thank you. I’m grateful to have grown here.

Want to learn more about A.C.T.’s Fellowship Program? Click here

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