Articles by Tyler Esselman

Grad Showcase Part 1: COMPLETE

By Tyler Esselman / June 11, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /
Part one of graduate showcase is in the books! My class just returned from doing our showcase in New York City​ over the past several days. It was a very exciting, exhausting trip and I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to see the city in this new light.

Until now, I’ve never seriously considered living in New York. I really like the city itself but I’ve always thought that it wasn’t really a place in which I could see myself living. The bustle and cramped spaces always seem claustrophobia inducing and that was my over-riding image of the city. However, this time around I was able to get out of Manhattan ​a bit to see Brooklyn ​and Queens​, and see that New York is not only Manhattan. There are slower paced neighborhoods where people live their lives at a pace not all that dissimilar to Chicagoans. This pleasantly surprised me.

I never had any qualms about not being able to do the kind of work I really want to do if I moved to New York, but the alumni panel that we attended as part of our activities made it clear just how empowering the city is for artists. Almost universally across our panel, the individuals wore many different hats as actors, writers, producers, and directors or some combination therein. What I take from this is that if you make it be so, you don’t have to be put into a box as one type of artist in New York, and that people are really driven to make their own work which is also my main desire artistically as I move past graduation. How awesome is that?

Beyond the official aspects of our time there, I also enjoyed seeing some old friends, visiting some really cool bars and restaurants, and taking in an Upright Citizens Brigade​ comedy show. New York treated me really well. Now we have a few days back in Chicago for the hometown version of our showcase before leaving for LA where I lived for several years when I was younger. I can’t wait to continue to share our work! Let’s go get ‘em.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
Since we’re headed west soon, here’s a warm weather throwback for y’all.


I'm a Lifelong Learner, Baby

By Tyler Esselman / June 10, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /
I’m a cheesy guy. I’m a sappy, nostalgic, hopelessly romantic dude and what I’m about to say is cheesy but true: I love learning. So, as my formal education comes to a close (at least for the foreseeable future because I don’t currently see myself going back to get a grad degree), I’ve started to think about what I’m going to do next to continue my education in theatre and just as a person in the world. The options are endless.

From an acting/theatre perspective, I’m fairly certain the next training on my agenda is take improv classes. I’ve been doing improve since I was the president of my high school’s improv ​comedy troupe (What what, Improvability!). This past quarter we had an improv class with Noah Gregoropolous​ from iO​. This was definitely one of my favorite classes at DePaul. It was less focused in comedy than it was in using the training we have for written text and applying it to improvisation. The only real rule was that we wanted to always be truthful. The excise this provided was great because it encourages you to always mean what you say on stage no matter what which can be harder than you think if you’re not relaxed and focused in the moment. This practice was super inspiring to me, especially at this stage of my training. As such, I’m definitely planning on taking classes at iO ASAP. I feel like it will be just the kind of practice I need to keep my enthusiasm for acting alive.

My to-do list of post grad hobbies outside of theatre is crazy long. I want brew my own beer, work wood, play music, write poetry and short stories, cook delicious food, work on an organic farm in Norway, backpack everywhere, learn a million languages, build houses, and plant a killer garden. The way I see it, to be a quality actor you have to be a real human being. You have to appreciate things outside of the theatre that inform you in your theatre work. And at this point I just want to hit the ground running. I’m young and I want to squeeze every bit of opportunity out of my day. I want to learn something new constantly. And I will do it. The work never stops.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
You just have to sing along! YOU HAVE TO.


In Defense of Honors Students

By Tyler Esselman / June 1, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

In high school, I was an honors student. Like, I mean the textbook definition of an honors student. Anxiety-ridden, stressed and overloaded with positions on the executive boards of student groups. You know the one. That was me. The long-term effects of my honors-induced anxiety is a subject for a novel of Russian proportions, but the benefits I have reaped from the AP​/IB​/honors seeds that I sowed in high school are undeniable.

The later years of high school consisted of a combination of AP and IB work that helped me take care of a goodly amount of liberal studies requirements during my first couple years of college. I didn’t even get the highest scores on any of those exams and DePaul was still pretty generous with accepting the credit. I was able to complete all of my liberal studies requirements by the end of my second year. This opened my schedule up to take classes that I wanted simply for the fun of it. I took an Islamic studies class, a couple French classes, a German class, and a creative writing class. I was very glad for the opportunity to diversify my class experience outside of The Theatre School. But beyond that, the time gifted to me allowed me to see more shows, get to know more theatre companies, experience more around the city and figure out what my real goals are after school. That’s the biggest benefit. You have to have breathing room in school to be able to build relationships and just wander. 

In essence what I’m getting at is that if you’re in the thick of an AP or IB course load in high school right now and you want to pull out your hair, stuff it into your textbook and eat it with mustard, you’re going to survive. And you will reap some reward from the experience. I guarantee it. If nothing else, you’ll know that you can accomplish something you set your mind to and that’s a feeling worth its weight in gold. 

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Future Islands - Seasons (Waiting on You)


By Tyler Esselman / May 27, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

One week from today, I will be in New York City​ doing the first part of one of the major closing events of my time at The Theatre School​: Graduate Showcase. During the first two weeks of June, my class and I will showcase our wares in New York, Los Angeles, and here in Chicago for industry professionals. It’s our chance to blast off into the professional world as a team.

Since the beginning of spring quarter, we have been presenting scenes and monologues to our showcase director Lisa Portes to find a piece that works best to showcase our strengths as performers. The people that will be in attendance are agents, casting directors, and alums in the respective cities. Once they watch our pieces, there will be networking events where we can introduce ourselves to those people as human beings. In addition to the actual events planned for showcase in each city, there will be plenty of time for us to explore the cities and see shows. It’s a great opportunity for us to get a feel for the place and see if we could actually see ourselves there. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends in both cities and also taking a little road trip up the coast in California​. It’s going to be perfect to see the ocean in all its vastness before graduating and starting the next chapter of my life.

Ideally, some of the agents that see our work in any of the cities will call us in to audition specifically for representation but it’s best to go into the showcase just focused on the work. In my opinion, this event is going to be great because it’s one last chance to work with this ensemble with whom I’ve gone through so much these past four y​​​ears. One last hurrah is just what we need. And we’re going to do it in style.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Just trying to keep moving forward, ya dig?

Structure vs. Chaos

By Tyler Esselman / May 14, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

I’m a guy that thrives on structure. It’s my default when I don’t know what to do in a situation. As such, I have been trying to embrace more chaos in my life simply because it puts me out of my comfort zone and helps me go to places in my acting work and in my personal life that I rarely expect. That being said, as I graduate and lose the structure of going to class every day and knowing where I will be at the beginning and end of each season, I have to build at least a little more structure for my daily, post-grad life so that I can stay sane.

As an actor starting my professional career here in Chicago, I’ll have to supplement my income with a day job or two. I have managed to secure one at the Chicago Athletic Club already. This job is great for many reasons including the fact that I can work early mornings so I can go on auditions during the day, I get a free gym membership, and it’s easy to trade shifts with coworkers. My hope is that I can also secure another job in the evenings serving at a restaurant. This way I would at least have the experience serving that I could use at any restaurant and get to interact with people. At some point, my hope is to get a job working at a brewery here in town. Beer is another of my major passions outside of theatre and being able to help brew beer for my day job would be absolutely ideal. The key that I have gathered about how to make it for the long haul as an actor is that you cultivate a life outside of the craft. If I can brew beer, write my own material, exercise, spend time with my friends, and make time to get out into nature regularly, I think I will be in the perfect headspace to do my best acting work.

The structure that I’m trying to create for myself will ideally be flexible enough that I can follow my impulses when new opportunities present themselves for me. Is there a chance to work in Milwaukee or another city that attracts me? Well then I hope to be able to go for that with no qualms. I’m getting more and more excited for the life I can live after graduation with each day that passes.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

I’ve never been terribly into Toro Y Moi but this track may have shifted that. This is great springtime music. 

What Is My DePaul Legacy?

By Tyler Esselman / May 7, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my legacy will be at DePaul. I recently heard somewhere that the only reason humans do anything in their lives is so that they will be remembered when they’re gone. And it makes sense to a certain extent. We want to make our mark. And hopefully it will be a positive mark!

In a literal sense, I’m very proud of having been a part of The Theatre School (TTS)​ as we moved into our new building last year. It’s been a huge shift in identity for us as a community and it’s been exciting, frustrating, and rewarding to be at this school during this time of transition. I’ll always be able to say that I was among the first students to work in this building as it continues to support artists for many years to come.

I’m also very proud of the student organizations I’ve helped start while at this school. I was in the group of students that started TTS’s Musical Theatre Collaborative our first year. We started out doing a small-scale cabaret in a tiny room and we’ve grown to doing full musicals in the beautiful studio space in The Theatre School building. The Mildly Rehearsed Players is another organization of which I cannot express how proud I am. We had so much fun putting up Shakespeare’s plays​ in a way that we connect to in a deep way and sharing it with our community in a fun, engaging way. I also never thought I would be able to play Romeo in my life and mildly gave me that opportunity. I will always be grateful that we brought that together.

DePaul’s legacy in me is perhaps even more interesting. I did so many great things in school and out of school during my time here. I had major life events come and go; I fell in love for the first time, I discovered the kind of art I want to do, and I started down a path toward the kind of man I want to be. I like to think that the lives I encountered and the art I made while here will live on just as much as the experiences will live in me. That means I’m doing my job.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
It’s warm this week! Thank god!

Abroaden Your Horizons

By Tyler Esselman / April 30, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /
You know what I think anyone who has the means to do should do during their time in college? Leave the country for a bit! Study abroad​! Go somewhere and study your craft outside of the familiar landscape of the US. Or don’t study your craft. Maybe study something completely different. The point is that you shake up your perspective and challenge yourself by being in a new environment with people you’ve never met before and absorb a new culture. Just do it.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in France after my second year because of a scholarship I received when I graduated from high school. I didn’t do it through DePaul because the program I had my sights set on was an independent voice training program at the Roy Hart Artistic Centre​ in the south of France. 

After making my way across the pond and spending a few days visiting family friends in Lyon, I arrived at Malerargues; the home of the Roy Hart Centre. Two of my friends from The Theatre School​ were already there and we did our weeklong program together. The chateau at Malerargues is gorgeous in its simplicity. Originally conceived as a commune where a group of British expats gathered to explore the human voice and make alternative theatre, the collection of buildings has been restored by hand over the years and now yearly hosts hundreds of people from all over the world who want to explore their connection to the voice and the myriad ways they can use it. And even though my friends and I are actors, the vast majority of the people in our program were not. They were psychologists, microbiologists, teachers, musicians, roofers, and explorers. They were all there for different reasons. Some were having trouble in their marriages and wanted to improve their communication, some felt like they had never truly been heard, and for others it was medicinal. 

It was an incredibly inspiring experience for me because it offered me a completely different perspective on the kind of artistic work I want to do and made me feel like a fuller human being. I think about it every day.

I cannot recommend studying abroad more highly. DePaul has wonderful programs available to its students that will get you out there in the world and trying things you never thought you were capable of.  Do it. You won’t regret it.
Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
This song makes me smile. That’s a valuable thing.

Why I Chose DePaul

By Tyler Esselman / April 22, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /
When I was a junior in high school, I was confident that I would be going to school to study acting. But that was about it. I didn’t really have any clue as to how to go about pursuing those programs because I hadn’t been exposed to the culture of drama conservatories too much in high school. I vaguely knew about NYU and Juilliard​, and knew that DePaul had a conservatory because my uncle attended DePaul and told me about it. With that most basic knowledge, I scheduled a visit at The Theatre School​ during the summer between my junior and senior years.

I was struck immediately when I entered our old building​ on Kenmore. It felt good; like it was full of life and inhabited by real people. As I went through my information session​ and tour of the school, what I picked up was that this was a place where I could be a part of a team and also grow as an individual artist. That was what I wanted. It was small, focused, and dedicated to the craft. Plus, everyone I interacted with during my tour and audition process was incredibly kind and seemed genuinely interested in expressing their belief in their school. That certainly made an impression on me. I left with the distinct feeling that I might have found a home for my college years.

Once I was actually accepted and offered a financial aid package, it became clear that the stars were aligning. I received the best scholarship offer of any school I was accepted to and also knew that Chicago would be a great city for me being from the Midwest. Chicago also held the attraction of being an incredible theatre town​ where I could learn my craft from the city and not only my school. Checking the “yes” box to say I would be attending The Theatre School at DePaul University is a moment I will never forget. I hope any other young theatre artist who does the same feels just as much satisfaction.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
This one makes nostalgia ooze out of my ears. Please enjoy.


Spring in Chicago Can't Be Beat

By Tyler Esselman / April 16, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

For a very long time, winter was my favorite season. I loved the gray skies and the skeletal vegetation and dependability of the cold. What was I thinking?? All of those things I loved about winter before are pretty much always replaced by January with dreams of clear skies, light breezes, and trees and flowers bursting with life. Spring is a chance for new beginnings and the spring in Chicago is a unique, beautiful animal.

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts or bio, you’ve probably gained an inkling as to my deep love for baseball. And to me, spring and baseball are inextricably connected. When the weather gets warm, I immediately start dreaming of bats cracking, the organ churning at Wrigley, and even just listening to a game on the radio on the porch back home in St. Louis. This year, thanks to the generosity of a good friend of mine who is a Cubs season ticket holder, I was able to attend Opening Night at Wrigley ​to see the Cardinals and Cubs play the very first baseball game of the regular season. It was a tremendous night. My boys played well and soundly defeated the Cubs. I can’t think of a better way to start my spring than with an evening at Wrigley.

Spring has an amazing effect on how Chicagoans interact in the city. During winter, everyone curls up into themselves. They zip their collars up to the tippy top and put their shoulders down into the wind to be able to make it down the street. But when the flowers bloom, many Chicagoans do too. The clear air and even smallest modicum of warmth causes people to actually look at each other on the street, smile and spread a bit of good cheer. It’s also liberating to know that you can actually walk places rather than having to figure out the best covered form of transportation. The possibilities exponentially increase when spring comes in Chicago.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
I’ve been busting my way through the first season of True Detective ​and this bit of music caught my attention. T Bone Burnett​ coordinated the music for the show and he’s one I can always count on to match music perfectly to a film or television show.


Homesickness II

By Tyler Esselman / April 1, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

A couple years ago, when I started DeBlogging, I wrote a post called Homesickness: A Manifesto. In my opinion, it’s one of the better posts I’ve written because it was more personal and revealing than many of my other posts. I really had it bad back then.  I just hadn’t found my rhythm and niche here in Chicago yet and it was really hard for me live with my yearning to be back home some days. Going into my final spring quarter of college, I can say that I’ve come a long way with my homesickness and have a much-changed perspective on it.

I definitely still miss St. Louis every day. I miss my family and friends and the special kind of familiarity that I will never be able to replicate anywhere else. I miss the way it smells in the middle of spring driving around with the windows down listening to Cake. I miss the open space and the sense of freedom. But what I’ve realized is what I miss is just that: the sense of what it was like before. I’m a nostalgic guy. To the point that I can get stuck there sometimes. But I’ve found that my homesickness has evolved into something that looks forward rather than backward. What I want now is to establish my own home. I want surround myself with a community of people that I love and care about in a place that feels right. This is one of the most exciting trains of thought I have had while mulling over post-graduate life. This is my chance to find my home for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong, St. Louis will always be home to me but that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to establish roots just as meaningful somewhere else.

So my advice to all of you out there who experience homesickness is that I don’t think it ever really goes away entirely. It’s like when you fall in love. In my opinion, all the love you have for someone never really goes away completely. It will just live in you in a different way. So all you can do is figure out how to find your niche and make a new home for yourself. It won’t be the same but that doesn’t mean it will be worse at all.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
My good buddy put this on his playlist for his trip to the Grand Canyon and it immediately grabbed me. I’ll have to put it on my playlist when I eventually make it to that big hole in the ground. 

The Three Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Coming to DePaul

By Tyler Esselman / March 16, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

Entering college, it’s important to remember that everyone is starting fresh. No two people will have exactly the same experience. That’s the beauty of it.  My best overarching and admittedly cheesy advice is to thine own self be true. You want to be the most genuine, real version of yourself. It’s the only that college will really be a time during which you can figure out your own personal philosophy and how that will feed your future. So with that in mind, here come my three things I wish I would have known before coming to DePaul.

The first one is pretty technical. When moving in to the residence hall, you probably don’t need as much stuff as you think you do. I understand the idea that you want to have anything you might need at your disposal, but those rooms can get real crowded real quick. To my mind, you want to have your living essentials like clothes and all that jazz, and some comfort stuff like mementos from home, and then build from there. You don’t want to have an overstuffed room because then you’ll just feel claustrophobic and it won’t feel like a home away from home. Focus on making it feel homey over time rather than expecting it to happen right away.

Second, it’s important to have alone time. There is a typhoon of socializing when you first get to school. Endless recitations of your hometown, major, and what you did over the summer. At least for me, it was overwhelming. It can feel like you need to make best friends with people right away or you’ll be behind the eight ball. It’s just not the case. Your friend group will present itself over time as long as you are participating in the experience to some extent. But you need to have some alone time to decompress and actually process the whole transition to pseudo-independent life. I recommend taking a walk to the lake a couple times a week. It doesn’t take too long from campus and it’s a great time to think and then appreciate that beautiful lake we have here.

Finally, choose one person from back home and correspond with them in letters. This is definitely something I wish I had done. Letter writing takes practice and concentration and is very different from sending emails. It makes you a better writer, teaches you how to organize your thoughts, and is so satisfying when you seal that envelope. This will also create a tether to home for you. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in college life but, if this is something that you desire, having a specific point of contact and communication back home will be incredibly valuable.

Maybe these seem obvious but, in my experience, sometimes the most obvious things that can make us happy are the first to fall by the wayside. Be good and true to yourself and college will be a really transformative, enriching time.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Hozier's really been blowing up lately and this is my favorite cut of his that I've heard. Enjoy!



Chicago's Special Kind of Toughness

By Tyler Esselman / March 6, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

The other day the warmth came out, if only for a moment. It was glorious. I didn’t even have to wear a hat. Of course things cooled down again as the day went on but it got me to thinking about how exactly we Chicago residents survive each soul-sucking winter.

I think it takes a special kind of person to be able to live in Chicago. You have to be tough. First you have to be physically tough. You have to have the stamina to make it through the long, dark nights from November to March. And you have to be able to trudge down your street to the train even when the wind and snow are trying their hardest to bend you backwards. This winter, I’ve discovered just how important staying active during the cold months is. If you can do a lot of strength training at this time, then it won’t feel like you’re at so much of a disadvantage in the battle against the cold. You must be like a Viking or a 20s-era boxer. Bruised, weathered and built to last.

You also have to be mentally tough. You have to choose to be happy and positive because if you don’t then it’s a long spiral down the rabbit hole of seasonal depression. It’s important to take time to quiet your mind and center yourself. I’ve been trying to incorporate at least fifteen minutes every day of just being still. I don’t take in any information and I don’t move. I just sit still and swim in my thoughts. Any form of meditation can work so long as you are in the moment and honest with yourself. You’ll be amazed at how drastically it can affect your mood when it feels like the sun will never come back ever.

Carl Sandburg wrote a famous poem about Chicago​ and I think it paints a truly evocative portrait of our city. We’re fighters and we don’t take no for an answer. That is what makes this town beautiful and why we manage to survive winter after punishing winter. Stay warm, friends.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
The Bad Plus is a great contemporary jazz outfit that I have been grooving hard to lately. This one never fails to give me feelies. Enjoy!

The Finest Improv You'll Ever See

By Tyler Esselman / February 25, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

For those of you high schoolers who will be visiting DePaul​ on your respective spring breaks this year, I have one recommendation for something to do. It is, in my mind, so quintessentially Chicago that you simply must not miss the opportunity to experience it.

I have talked about TJ and Dave before but for those of you have not heard me sing their praises to this point, Tj Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi are two improvisers here in town who are the artistic directors of iO’s Mission Theatre in their new space on Kinhsbury. In addition to moderating the shows that play at The Mission, they have their own 90 minute show that they do every Wednesday night at 10:30pm eponymously titled TJ & Dave. They come on the stage, introduce each other, drop their trademark line of “Trust us, this is all made up”, the lights go down, the lights come up, and they tear into 90 minutes of improve right off the tops of their heads. They don’t take suggestions, they just look at each other and the scene grows from whatever behavior is happening in that moment. It is quite honestly the best theatre I have ever seen. These two men are such incredible quality actors that them just existing together creates some of the funniest, poignant, and thought-provoking theatre being done anywhere. Most people are familiar with the sketch-based improve that Chicago is known for thanks to Second City and iO, but this longform work is also a hallmark of the Chicago improve scene. The space is very intimate and the audience is always rapt because they know just how special the material unfolding before them can be. It’s only $10 but make sure you buy your tickets ahead of time because this show sells out every single week. If you’re interested, here’s a trailer for a documentary​ recently done about the guys that can whet your appetite. 

Improv and storefront theatre are what make Chicago’s theatre scene the beautiful cacophony that it is and nothing encapsulates that spirit more than TJ & Dave.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

This song is love, people. “I’d rather be working for a paycheck, than waiting to win the lottery”

Formulating Some Goals and Stuff

By Tyler Esselman / February 19, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

I can’t stop thinking about the movie Whiplash. By now, many of you out there have probably at least heard of it. For those of you who haven’t, Whiplash is a remarkable film about a young jazz drummer at the nation’s top music conservatory being pushed to the limit by a supremely demanding conductor at the school. It’s such a beautifully done film; masterfully acted, shot, and edited. And it asks an important question: what makes the great artists truly great?

As I inch ever closer to graduation, the constant daydreaming about what kind of work I want to do as an artist and human being is becoming ever more pressing. I’m in a really fortunate position, I can pretty much go anywhere and do anything I want, but it’s tough to figure out what my path will be. I know what I value and I know the kind of people I want to work with, but it’s a matter of putting myself in a position that will allow me to be free to do exactly the kind of work I want to do. 

One of my immediate goals is to continue to do a great deal of quality classical work, both Shakespeare and otherwise. Thus far the performances I have done that I enjoy the most and from which I learn the most have been performing Shakespeare. I’m going to continue on this track because I believe that if you can perform classical text well, you can do it all well. It’s also becoming more and more of a desire of mine to write and produce some killer short films with my buddy. I’ve been learning more about what it actually takes to produce a film and it seems like something we can actually do. I have no doubt that we can make some honest, personal films and I want to get it done! The wheels are turning!

In Whiplash, our protagonist takes to heart the idea that the great jazz musicians in history became great because they were relentless and never, ever took no for an answer. While I think one has to take care of themselves and have a healthy separation from their work, I do think that it is so important to go after artistic pursuits with single-minded determination. It’s the only way and that’s how I plan on working from this point on.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

I saw The Districts on Seth Meyers​ this past week. Great energy and killer sound for such a young band. I mean, come on! They just graduated HIGH SCHOOL!

On Living on Campus

By Tyler Esselman / February 10, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /
When I was registering for housing the summer prior to moving to Chicago and starting my illustrious tenure here at DePaul, I had no idea what I was doing. I had done no research about any of the residence halls other than figuring out the cost of each and the general bathroom situation. With that minimal prep in mind, I slotted in University Hall as my first choice. It seemed centrally located and had suite-style rooms, so I went for it. I was lucky enough to be placed there and I’m very happy I was.

I cannot overstate how much I dug having to share my bathroom with only three other people. I’ve probably thought about this too much, but I think that you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat their bathroom. How much time they spend in their can be indicative of the quality of their personal hygiene, and how often they clean it can tell you if they’re a conscientious person or not. These are important things to know when you’re first moving in with someone you’ve never lived with before. My biggest piece of advice to all of you moving into residence halls anywhere, and this may seem like a no-brainer to many, is to figure out how clean you’re going to keep that room. It may seem awkward to try to have that conversation right off the bat but if you’re able to have that conversation about how often (and in what manner) you want to clean the room, it’ll save you the headache of getting into an argument about it later on.

The other thing to remember is that you don’t necessarily need to be best friends with your roommate. In some cases, it’s even better if you’re not. It’s more about your living styles being compatible. Over the past several years of living in the residence halls and in various apartments, I’ve discovered that some of my best friends work well with me as a roommate and others don’t. Doesn’t mean you can’t be friends; you just know you have different ideas about what a clean saucepan is. You’ll figure out what your ideal roommate is. It’s all about trial and error.

I have very fond memories of living in University Hall. Looking back now, I encourage you to enjoy the convenience of having all of your friends right at your fingertips. Hanging out with people gets a little more difficult once you all live several stops away from each other on the CTA so take advantage of being able to crash in each others’ rooms at all hours. It’s the best. UHall for life!

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
This week’s hot track comes from Eels. His album Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire is rad to say the least. Give it a good, hard listen. Enclosed is one of my preferred tracks from that joint.

Getting All the Nuts and Bolts

By Tyler Esselman / February 6, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

This quarter, my class has a tandem of two weekly classes at the Acting Studio Chicago​. The Acting Studio is a center for classes focused in acting technique and also the business side of the entertainment industry in Chicago. The classes we are taking are an acting for the camera class and also an audition technique class. They present an interesting one-two punch every week introducing every week to what it might really be like to work as an actor in Chicago.

In acting for the camera, we go through scenarios every week that resemble an actual on-camera audition that we would go on. We read commercial copy and learn how to most effectively use our training to make this sometimes dry text unique to us and boil down what will help us get callbacks on these auditions. It’s a subtle technique and looking at yourself on the screen once we’ve filmed the segments is very weird at first. I’m getting more used to it with each class but it can make you pretty self-conscious. It really just comes down to practice, I think. Doing this kind of material is something very few people in my class have ever done but we’re getting better. In addition to reading copy, we’ve gone through scenarios for auditions with no written text and worked in pairs. We are certainly getting an advantage because so many other actors our age not coming out of a program such as ours don’t have this opportunity to learn the industry and the technique before jumping in to an audition.

Speaking of auditioning, our audition class on Fridays is an extension of the audition class we had last quarter. We are learning what it takes to get in the door with agents and do our best work when we get in the room for those auditions. I guess the biggest thing that I’m taking from all of it is that there is no right way to do it, really. The most important thing to me is that I don’t feel like I’m compromising any part of myself to get work that I think I “should” get or “have” to get. I want to and will do it my way and I am confident that, because of that, I will do the work that I want to do.  Rock on, amirite?

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
Say what you will about Beck, but the dude can really write a jam. 

Showcase Is Just around the Corner

By Tyler Esselman / January 27, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /
This past week, I attended the first planning meeting for one of the most exciting and daunting events of senior year for us acting majors: Graduate Showcase. Our Showcase is where we travel to New York City and LA to do a performance of scenes and monologues for industry professionals like agents, casting directors, and managers. Oh, we also do one here in Chicago, by the way. In addition to doing the Showcase itself in those cities, we also attend alumni networking events that can put us in contact with alums of TTS (The Theatre School) that might be able to help us get settled in those cities should we decide to move there. And the crazy part? We do all three performances within the span of two weeks! Nuts, right? So, this first planning meeting was mostly to talk logistics. We covered things like budgeting, getting headshots printed, transportation, and lodging. It’s all very overwhelming and absolutely exhilarating.

Many of my classmates have pretty much already decided if they want to move away from Chicago right after Showcase and graduation or not, but I’m in a very flexible spot. I always thought that I would want to leave Chicago for LA right away but after these past four years, my thoughts on it have definitely shifted. I want to do different kinds of work than I did before and that could lead me anywhere.
I have no idea where I will be six months from now but I’m leaning towards probably staying in Chicago for the time being and maybe even going overseas for a while. I’d love to see what the UK might have for a young theatre maker such as myself, especially if I had some collaborators who also wanted to head over there. It’s always been a dream of mine to live overseas for at least a while and soon might be the best time to do it.

Ultimately, I will have to see what the next several months hold for me and what opportunities Showcase might present, and then go from there. It’s very exciting to have all of these options ahead of me. I’m just going to have to go with my gut.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

This week is "Towers" by Bon Iver. My favorite song off their self-titled second album. I could listen to it any time, any day.

Tech week update

By Tyler Esselman / January 20, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /
 This past week has been a doozy. I've been in tech rehearsals for my show The Memo by Vaclav Havel. The piece is an absurdist play from the 60's satirizing communism within a corporation. It's been a fascinating process to unpack this play and figure out how it is relevant to my generation. Even though it is not a terribly complicated show in terms of its technical effects, tech week has still been pretty exhausting. 

For those of you have never done a play, tech week is the time during a play's production where all of the design elements are incorporated before opening. As such, it necessitates going through the play moment by moment and folding in lights, sound, and transitions. I personally love tech because it demands a high level of focus as an actor and allows you to feel out, in a deep way, what it will truly take to perform the show each night. The key is to take care of yourself, especially during the winter. You have to make sure you have enough food at home to sustain yourself because you probably won't be making it to the grocery store any time soon. It also always helps me to have my room clean and laundry done for the sake of my mental state. That way, even if I'm stressed about rehearsal or class or whatever else, at least I know that I have clean clothes and sheets waiting for me at home. 

I'm very excited to open this show and share our ensemble's work with the community. It's a wacky piece that I think will be very interesting to perform for The Theatre School.

Tyler's Hot Track of the Week:

I'm a big fan of Bon Iver and have also started taking in Bon Iver creative force Justin Vernon's other work as well. This song from his band Volcano Choir called Byegone is particularly good and I hope you'll give it a taste.

Winter quarter with Sanford Meisner

By Tyler Esselman / January 16, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /

The fourth year of the BFA Acting program here at The Theatre School is largely an exit year. We take classes like audition technique, acting for the camera, and voice over to help prepare us for the realities of being a working actor in Chicago or elsewhere. Important stuff like how to format headshots and resumes, and how to interface with agents and casting directors is covered. All of this in addition to some more acting technique. One of the pure acting technique classes this quarter is Advanced Meisner and it is a fascinating course.

Many of you have probably heard, at least in passing, of actors using Meisner technique. It is a study of the teachings of a man named Sanford Meisner. The idea, as with most acting training, is to help the actor personalize text to a high degree and be able to fully exist with his or her scene partner in the moment. The training starts with what is known as “repeating”. This is where two actors will sit across from one another, observe each other, and state what they see. For instance, I may say to my partner “You have a blue shirt.” And then he or she would repeat, “I have a blue shirt” and I would say my statement again until one of us made another statement. Eventually, the goal is to be able to make statements about what your partner is doing or feeling and the partner can agree or disagree with them and make observations about you. 

It is an excellent tool by which to drop in to meaningful presence with your partner. Another aspect of the training is personalization and emotional preparation. This uses the given text of a play and helps the actor make it mean something very deeply to him or her in preparation for a scene. Ideally, this preparation takes the actor to a vulnerable place in some way and then when they enter the scene, they do not have to consciously think about it. It will be there in them and they can be fully present with their partner and the circumstances of the text. 

The emotional prep stuff can be scary. It leads to some very strong reactions during the training but, as far I have seen, can also lead to some decidedly truthful and vulnerable work if handled in the correct way. We’ve only had one class so far but I’m looking forward to diving deeper into this training. It’s a great class to have at this stage of my training.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
I’ve been feeling sentimental this week and Marvin Gaye always has a way of encapsulating what I am feeling or what I want to feel. Here’s the real jam for the week.

So Much to Do, so Little Time

By Tyler Esselman / January 7, 2015 / / Twitter / Facebook /
Winter is no longer coming, people. It’s here. Wow. It hit hard. It seems fitting that today, the first day of classes for my final winter quarter, would also be the first sub-zero day of the year. But, I must say, my spirits are high. I have a really good feeling about this quarter and what it could be. As such, I have been working on my pre-graduation to-do list. Pretty soon, I’ll be off in the big bad world and I intend to do some personally enriching stuff and some uniquely DePaul stuff before I get out of Dodge.

One, I plan to read all of Shakespeare’s canon, sonnets included, out loud by the end of winter quarter. My Bard craze is well-documented in this blog’s archive and I figure now is the time to really go whole-hog on devouring this rich text. I have my favorites, obviously, but I am excited to see what will strike me from the less-celebrated work in the canon. My dear friend and I hope to do at least two plays a week together. It’ll be a great thing to do when going out of doors is simply unconscionable.

Two, I plan on attending a Blue Demon basketball game. This is something I am ashamed to say I have neglected to do thus far in my time here at the university. Granted, it would have been difficult to fit it in before now, what with my schedule as packed to the gills as it has been these last three years. But, there’s still time! I want to make sure that I take in our school’s marquee sport at least once before I’m no longer a student. Whether it’s the women’s team or the men’s, I’ll do it!

And three, I want to perform at an open mic somewhere. Stepping up at an event like that has always seemed like a very prototypically college thing to do and it’s certainly something that interests me. I’m not entirely sure what I will perform. It might be poetry or an Irish drinking song something of that ilk. It will feel good to do a little bit of performance outside of The Theatre School and share my work with a different section of the DePaul community.

This list will keep growing and I’ll be sure to share if I add any particularly interesting bits. Stay warm, blogosphere!

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

I’m on another Andrew Bird kick lately and here’s a track of his that struck me the moment I heard it.

A mildly rehearsed Romeo & Juliet

By Tyler Esselman / December 22, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
As Shakespeare’s canon goes, it’s been my experience that some of the most divisive opinions about any one of his plays come when discussing Romeo & Juliet. This, I’m sure, is for a multitude of reasons - like the fact that it’s so widely read in high school and it being the prototypical romance. By and large, people either seem to love it or despise it. Full disclosure, I’m a part of the former group.

I’ll unpack exactly why I love it so much in just a sec but what’s got me thinking about the larger role of this particular play is the fact that I am actually going to have the distinct honor of playing Romeo in a production that DePaul’s Mildly Rehearsed Shakespeare Company is putting on in early January. This group is one that just recently came into existence here at The Theatre School. It was spearheaded by MFA Director Lavina Jadhwani and inspired by the Backroom Shakespeare Project, which I’ve written about before. Essentially, Lavina makes a 90-minute cut of a Shakespeare play, casts it, we do a read through on one rehearsal, do entrances, exits, fights, and dances on a second rehearsal and then we put that sucker up. No real scene work and just those two rehearsals. We have someone on book on the night for when we inevitably go up on a line but that’s part of the fun! The idea is to put on these plays in a style very similar to the way they would have been done in Shakespeare’s time. In those days, the concept of the director had not really been conceived and the players would often have less than a week to memorize and prepare the full-length plays. It makes for fast, loose, often hilarious theatre. In September, we did Henry IV Part 1 to get things started. Doing one of the histories was tough and rewarding and we’re excited to tackle one of the Bard’s most well-known plays now. As I prepare, I’m reminded of why I love this particular play so much. Someone recently told me that they believe that people become actors because they love to fall in love with people and be obsessed with them. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. I love being obsessed with things and people in particular. There’s no feeling quite like completely giving your passion to something and this play is the perfect thesis on that particular kind of love. It’s unexplainable and overwhelming and terrifying and makes life worth living. Love will never get old. I’m a hopeless romantic and proud of it.

If you’re in town on January 4th, we will be performing in The Theatre School’s lobby space at 7:00pm. You should join us! It’s going to be a tragically good time.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Did everyone know about Elbow and just not tell me?? I really can’t believe I didn’t know about this band before this past week. Check ‘em out. They’re rad.

Caffeinated Chicago

By Tyler Esselman / November 17, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /

One of those college stereotypes that I never thought I would fall victim to was the college student as the coffee addict. My parents are both dedicated coffee drinkers and it never really caught on for me before or during high school. But after a year of college, at the beginning of my sophomore year, I started drinking coffee before my 8:00am LSP-120 class and have since been hooked. I don’t drink it every day but it’s at least once every other day, and I must say that I love it. Part of what I love about it is the ritual of either making it myself or going to a café and grabbing a cup. The warmth and spark it gives me on an early morning are invigorating and sometimes indispensable. And thank goodness I decided to fall in love with coffee in a city that is so rich with coffee opportunities.

Trying different types of coffee and exploring Chicago’s cornucopia of sterling cafes has been marvelous. If you’re coming to our fair city and are looking for a decent cup of Joe in a good atmosphere, here are a few of my suggestions.

Your first stop should be Bow Truss Coffee Roasters. These guys are down-to-business coffee folk. I have been to their Lakeview location. The utilitarian space is geared towards showcasing the process of bringing coffee to your cup. They have some seating available but no Wi-Fi. So bring a book/magazine/newspaper and enjoy the fantastic cup of coffee they will brew for you. Their coffee has also been featured at Brownstone’s at DePaul’s student center!

Next, shuffle up Broadway to Intelligentsia. A very similar atmosphere to Bow Truss but with Wi-Fi and a bit more traffic. I would say that Intelligentsia is likely the most popular coffee in Chicago outside of your more commercial options. They do a very good job of rotating their selection so the more you visit, the more things you will be able to try. Plus, the painfully trendy employees are always kind and helpful, even for the less experienced coffee consumers.

Now for something a little quirkier! If you find yourself in the vicinity of Wicker Park, make a stop by The Wormhole. This place is for those of you truly nerdy coffee connoisseurs. It is decked out from head to toe in sci-fi paraphernalia, retro video games, and even a real-life DeLorean. This is a favorite of my roommates’ and mine. They also do a great job of bringing in brews from all over the world so that your palate can marvel in the diversity of coffee available to us. Truly wonderful times in which we live!

So make sure you bring your mug with you if you’re coming to visit Chicago during this sure-to-be brutal winter. You’ll have no shortage of fantastic coffee options right at your fingertips.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

It’s been too long since I shot a Radiohead B-side out into the blogosphere. Take this! A true classic, in my opinion.

Concerning Auditioning for The Theatre School

By Tyler Esselman / November 13, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /

This past weekend was The Theatre School’s first audition and interview day of the year. For the next couple months, we will see thousands of students from around the world showcase their talents and see if they might be a good fit for our program. We do these auditions and interviews at regional locations around the country, but I am of the opinion that it is certainly more fun to come and do it on campus. You get the chance to actually work in our beautiful facility and feel out Chicago a bit to see if it might be your bag. Of course, equal consideration is given to all of the auditions done at any of our audition locations. I just think that if you can come visit us on campus you definitely should.

So, for those of you auditioning for our Acting program, let me give you a few pointers on our audition that will hopefully reduce your nerves and help you feel like you can put forth your best work. First off, breathe. Nervousness can make us get all tight and compressed but it will be to your advantage to be as open and available as possible during your work and allowing yourself to breathe is the first step in that direction. And I know it’s not as easy as it sounds sometimes! I still struggle to allow myself to breathe in auditions but when I do, it’s always better. Second, choose a piece that you really love. If you are doing a monologue that you really connect with on a deep level, you will automatically show a lot of who you genuinely are in the piece. And that’s what we want to see. Be willing to show us a little bit of yourself during the limited time we have with you and you can’t lose. Lastly, be willing to play. Acting and collaborating is all about being willing to think on your feet, take what your partner is giving you, and strongly give them something right back. So come in to the process willing to try some new things and surprise yourself. That right there is the best feeling; when you’ve committed so deeply to the piece, and the people you are working with, that you do things you didn’t even know you were capable of. That’s theatre and people will pay to see it.

I hope this has been helpful for those of you out there cutting up monologues and booking tickets to Chicago or wherever else. Who knows? You might even have a little fun when you audition. I sure hope you do.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Some mellow vibes and often devastating lyrics can come from Iron & Wine. Just what the doctor ordered.

Friendly Fighting

By Tyler Esselman / November 6, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​During my formative years, one could definitely say that my taste in movies, TV shows, and books leaned towards the epic. I was, and still am, a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction material with "Star Wars", "Lord of the Rings", and the like occupying a place in me especially close to my heart. I think it has to do with the scope of things and the romance of all of it. I just dig that stuff. But the battle sequences sure don’t hurt either.

As I have grown, I have maintained my love for the epic content on which I cut my teeth but have also developed that love into passion for other things. My appreciation for the large scale combat in so many of my favorite films and television shows has led me towards a keen interest in the art of stage combat. For those of you not familiar with the concept of stage combat, it is basically a blanket phrase that encompasses all violence that occurs on stage during a play that must be choreographed specifically so that all those participating will be completely safe. In my program at The Theatre School, all BFA Acting students are required to take the basic level of combat so they will be prepared for any combat that might be required of them during their shows at school. This class covers all of the basics of hand-to-hand combat and also fighting with a rapier and dagger. For those who have an interest in learning more, our Combat teacher Nick Sandys offers an advanced class every winter and spring quarter. In this class, we learn additional weapons such as quarterstaff, broadsword, and knife while also deepening our skills in hand to hand, rapier, and dagger. What I love about stage combat is how much it requires you to be fully present with your partner and really take care of each other. For stage combat to be successful, one must be absolutely specific about what he or she wants from the partner and act on it, so it is a great tool in acting. I also just really like fighting with swords and stuff! So the next time you watch a battle in a movie or a fight in a play, just remember that it should feel very real but it should also be completely safe if the fight choreographer is worth his salt. If you want to learn more about the community of stage combat enthusiasts, visit the Society of American Fight Directors’ website here

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

We listen to a TON of jazz in my Movement to Music class and this is one that always gets stuck in my head without fail. Robert Glasper is the real freakin’ deal.


By Tyler Esselman / October 27, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​As I have extolled before, fall is the best. It’s my favorite season. I love sweaters and hot coffee and pie and Thanksgiving and my birthday and all that good stuff. It’s just awesome. And fall in Chicago is the best time to be here.

If you tell anyone you’re going to Chicago, they will obviously warn you about the winter. And with good cause. It is brutal, after all. You need to have the proper coat and boots to even have a chance at surviving. But summer is brutal too! It gets truly hot and humid and just disgusting. And, honestly, the thing is that we don’t really have a spring here. In my past couple years, it’s pretty much gone straight from winter to summer with maybe a couple days of spring in between. That’s why you gotta go with fall. It’s the best period of sustained beautiful weather this city has to offer. So grab it while you can.

But that’s not all! There’s still tons of rad stuff to do in the city before the cold sets in. There’s the Chicago International Film Festival which is always a favorite of mine when I can make it. They show an extremely diverse range of films from small international indie films to the upcoming Oscar contenders before they get a wide release. Definitely worth checking out. Plus, Chicago gets into the fall spirit as well as any city. There are tons of beer tasting and seasonal food festivals like Veggie Fest that just happened on Navy Pier. Another great event that just took place was Open House Chicago. This is the weekend when the Chicago Architecture Foundation opens the doors to many of the city’s unique and rarely seen buildings, such as the Fine Arts Building and Alliance Francaise, for the public to tour for free. 
So I hope you will pull on your favorite cable-knit sweater and spend some time with us here in Chicago this fall. I’m going to be soaking up every bit of it that I can.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Another hot Rufus Wainwright track coming at you this week. Only word I can use to describe this one? Epic. Those horns!


The Theater School Gala

By Tyler Esselman / October 22, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​​This past week has been both wild and crazy. I’m currently in the thick of tech for my show at The Theatre School in addition to midterms and business ramping up in the TTS (The Theater School) admissions office in preparation for our first audition day in the coming weeks. It’s an exciting time of year, to be sure. Autumn is kind of my time, anyway. Us Esselmans have always been partial to earth tones and hearty meals so autumn is our time.

But all that fun stuff aside, I am going to be taking part in a very interesting event in a couple weeks and am very excited about it. Ever since my first year at TTS, I have volunteered at our annual fundraising gala. In much the same way professional theatre companies host galas to raise money to support their season each year, TTS has one to raise money for its students’ scholarships. The evening features a big dinner and program where many of the city’s most prominent arts benefactors can buy tables and watch as we honor alums, celebrities, and prominent members of the Chicago community for their contributions to us and the arts community in general. In past years I have sold tickets for the raffle and been featured as costumed entertainment but this year I will have the distinct honor of being a VIP escort and presenter. I will be escorting Mary Spaulding Burns who is the chair of The Theatre School board. She is a local lawyer who is heavily involved in supporting charitable organizations and the arts here in Chicago and, from every thing I’ve heard, seems like a real sweetheart. I will accompany her throughout the night to make sure she knows where she needs to be for the program. And I’ll get to rock my new suit! So that’s pretty cool. The gala is a really cool event that I’m very proud to be a part of especially because of the fact that I have benefitted from scholarship funds raised by this very event. It’s gratifying to know that I am playing a part in supporting the future of my school. That’s very important to me. Plus, you know I’m down for that free dinner!

Hot Track of the Week:

In honor of Wilco’s (nearly) sold out six night residency at the Riviera Theatre coming up in December, I have been poring over my favorite tracks from my favorite Chicago band. This one never fails to please.


Five Year Plan

By Tyler Esselman / October 21, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​At my stage of the BFA Acting program, the focus shifts towards what actually happens after graduation. We have classes focused in the subtle technique of auditioning and acting for the camera that take all the technical acting skills we have been sharpening over the past three years and teach us how to direct them for very specific purposes. In addition, these classes have a component where we must create a five-year plan and a ten-year plan for our post-graduation years. This has been a both daunting and empowering experience so far. It has given us a lens through which to prioritize our goals in all realms of our life: artistic, personal, financial, educational, and in service to the world. If you read my post about Meg Jay’s book "The Defining Decade" you can imagine how reading that book while also completing this assignment has been advantageous. I think it’s easy for people my age to become overwhelmed with the scope of paths our lives can take in the coming years. I get that and have totally felt that way quite often. But I am realizing that it is far more important to simply take a path rather than worrying if it is the right one. Certain friends of mine would roll their eyes at the last sentence and grumble something to the effect of “That’s just some optimistic hooey.” (And yes, I do have friends who use words like hooey. They’re a silly bunch, my buddies.) But, to paraphrase David Mamet, the only pragmatic way to be is optimistic. It will work out one way or another. 

Anyway, pardon my dissertation. What I hope to impart by saying all of this is that I think making some kind of five year plan is something all people my age should do. It helps you to organize your dreams and start to figure out ways to actually achieve them in a real-world sense. It may seem overwhelming at first but I think you will find that it can produce some seriously rad results if it is done earnestly. Give it a shot!

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

David Bowie is your required listening for the week, blogosphere. Specifically, his album Hunky Dory. This is my favorite track from his colossal discography.


New Play

By Tyler Esselman / October 20, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​As any returning readers of this blog will know, as an Acting major, I am cast in one curricular play per quarter at The Theatre School. This quarter, I was cast in a new play by my dear friend Janie Killips. She is a fourth year in The Theatre School’s BFA Playwriting major and has written an epic tale of which I am very lucky to be a part. Not only is this experience notable for me because it is Janie’s play, it is also my first time working on a brand new play and the unique process that that entails.

Up until now, every play I have worked on in a full production sense has been a published piece with a production history. For this, I am originating a role in a world premiere. Our director is TTS faculty member Damon Kiely who I have had as a professor previously and had always hoped to collaborate with on a show. The fascinating and exciting part about this process is that Janie is in the rehearsal room with us almost every day. She and Damon work in tandem to see how myself and the cast use the text and tweak it from there. Now, about halfway through our process, the play is wildly different from what we had not even two weeks ago. And I’m sure by the time we close the show on October 26th, it will have undergone even more changes. The script evolves right along with us as actors throughout the entire experience. This encourages us to stay on our toes and be prepared for any changes that might be thrown our way. While that might sound daunting, what is comforting is the fact that Janie has created such rich, complex characters that as long as we hold onto that identity that we have been cultivating, the text is the icing on the cake.

We have one more week until tech starts so things are starting to get all kinds of real in that rehearsal room. I certainly think our show will be a rousing success. More to come soon from the land of rehearsal!

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Rufus Wainwright is the truth. That’s all there is to it.


Time Is Just Flying By

By Tyler Esselman / October 17, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​And thus begins my final year DeBlogging! For those of you who have read any of my drivel over the past two years, welcome back! And for those of you taking in my blog for the first time, hi this should be fun! This year has wasted no time thus far kicking into high gear. I am currently in the thick of rehearsals for a new play written by my friend Janie Killips at The Theatre School. This is my first time working on a brand new play and it has been very gratifying. Suffice it to say, I’m truly pumped to bring this play to life and share it with the world.

Outside of school though, I have been reading a book that could not have found me at a better time. I am currently reading The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Aatter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay. I am about halfway through right now and it is an intensely enjoyable read. As someone on the brink of college graduation trying to figure out how to push myself out of the starting gate and take meaningful steps toward achieving my goals, Dr. Jay’s advice is indispensable. She separates the information into the categories of Work, Love, and Mind & Body. She breaks down how it is important to be bold about making choices and taking risks as a twentysomething while also making commitments as well whether those be work-related, romantic, or otherwise. Her counsel has been empowering in the sense that she impresses upon the fact that it is more important to make concrete choices during this time rather than striving to make the RIGHT choices. That’s incredibly heartening. This book is an absolute must-read for anywhere approaching or in their twenties now. 

I have high hopes for what senior year holds. I am excited to share my work with all of you out there and give you a taste of what it feels like to be a DePaul student about to tackle the real world. See you soon, blogosphere! 

Tyler's Hot Track of the Week:

This year's first Hot Track is yet another throwback. All of you returning readers know how much I love those, eh? This song has always meant a lot to me but has gained much more meaning recently in the best way possible. Hope you all enjoy!


Reflections of a Rising Senior

By Tyler Esselman / June 2, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /

Well, it's nearly arrived. I'm just about entering rising senior status here at DePaul. That's a scary thought. It's one of the biggest cliches but it really does feel like just yesterday I was standing on Clifton with several plastic tubs full of stuff that I thought would allow me to survive on my own, waiting to move into University Hall. A lot has changed since then, obviously, but perhaps just as many things have stayed the same. Im now thinking about how I want to make my senior year the best it can be.

For starters, with all my non-major required courses fulfilled, I'm going to fit in as many extra, personally interesting classes that I can. I'm slated to take a German class in the fall, which will be a great help in pushing me down the path of knowing as many languages as possible. I also intend to take as many advanced stage combat classes as my schedule will allow. I took one advanced combat class this quarter and it was truly awesome. I learned a more refined level of unarmed and rapier & dagger combat, which I had started in the basic combat class, and also learned quarterstaff combat, which I had never done before. Quarter staff, a six foot long redwood staff, is a weapon designed for guys like me. It was a blast to use the full length of the staff and alternate between very rapid and slow and deliberate passages of combat. This coming year, the featured weapons, in addition to more rapier & dagger and unarmed, are broadsword and knife. I freaking can't wait.

Among my other goals for the next year are to write an at least ten minute play, learn how to play guitar, and take a significant camping trip with my buddies. But, in a less concrete sense, I think this year will be especially important in figuring out how life after college will be. What it will look like and how I will handle it on a day-to-day basis. What's fortunate is that The Theatre School does a great deal to prepare its students for life as theatre artists after college. And, ultimately, I know it won't be that different besides the fact that I won't go to class everyday. Instead of that, I'll go to my job. Weird. But just the natural progression of things, I guess. As someone who worries quite a lot, I just need to keep reminding myself that I know how to survive and finishing school is something I can totally handle.

So, for the next year, I hope to soak up as much experience as I can from DePaul and my status as a student in Chicago and then figure out that whole being a functioning member of society thing. Piece of cake, right? 

Tylers Hot Track of the Week:

Heres a moody lil one for you. Foals hail from Oxford, England like another English band that I sort of like a little bit (cough Radiohead cough). This one's perfect for expressing that early summer angst that might be boiling right under the surface for many of you. Enjoy, friends.

Hot Doug's: Twilight of a Chicago Landmark

By Tyler Esselman / May 28, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /

I love cooked meat. That's just my truth. I love animals, and I am all for their humane treatment, but if we are going to eat them, then we need to do it in the right way. But ultimately, I just love eating cooked meats of all kinds. To that end, if you are a meat eater in Chicago, you must be familiar with the hot dog and sausage scene. I've talked about some of the better spots for these succulent treats in previous posts but there is one place that I have been wanting to try and have not had the opportunity to do so yet. And what's more, my time in which to do so is limited.

Hot Doug's is a Chicago institution. Located at the corner of Roscoe and California, it is a hot dog stand that serves us so much more than your average hot dog fare. Sausages consisting of meats as varied as rattlesnake, escargots, and crayfish grace the menu. Staring at you and daring you to question their veracity. The stand has been featured on numerous television programs, such as Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, for their maverick attitude about what hot dogs and sausage should be. Several years ago, when the city of Chicago banned the sale of foie gras, the fatty liver of geese whose production often brings to light questions of animal cruelty, the owners of Hot Doug's did not let little things like laws get in the way of them serving exactly the kind of food they wanted to serve. They went ahead and kept selling their foie gras sausage and even nicknamed it after the alderman who had the law pushed through. These guys don't mess around. Of course, you will be able to find a very well done traditional Chicago dog there but that should just be a warm up. There are so many more sausage horizons to gallop toward at this hot dog stand. Why would you want to miss that? 

But time is of the essence! Doug Sohn, the restaurant's owner, recently announced that Doug's will be closing its doors permanently in October. Sohn said that it's time to go do something else. I get and respect that for sure. Sometimes you just have to shake things up and good for him for knowing that he had to do just that despite the protests I'm sure he's experienced. Therefore, a visit to Hot Doug's should have just shot up your summer to-do list just like it did mine.

Tyler's Hot Track of the Week:

This week's hot track is off of the debut solo album from Damon Albarn of blur and Gorillaz fame. I think anything Albarn touches turns to gold and this album is no exception. Check it out.

A Taste of Chicago's Music Festival Season

By Tyler Esselman / May 19, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​Continuing the theme of fun things to do in the city this summer, let’s talk about music festivals. These days, summer music festivals are becoming more and more popular each year. You can find them all over the country in a variety of different locations and flavors and our fine city and its surrounding area are home to several. 

If you are at all familiar with the festival circuit, then you almost certainly know about Lollapalooza. It is Chicago’s highest profile festival and it takes place right in Grant Park next to the lake. There you will find a wide range of acts that usually include some of the biggest commercial acts of the given year and also an under-card of solid, up-and-coming bands that you definitely want to know about. This year the bill includes acts from Eminem and Arctic Monkeys, to local rap sensation Chance the Rapper, to a guy you may have heard me mention before, Glen Hansard. It takes place over three days in August so it is not for the faint of heart. It works best if you either have a plan of what you want to see and stick to it or you really just wing it and go where the winds take you. Who knows? You might see a great show by a righteous band that nobody knows about right now but is the next big thing. If you want tickets, you’ll have to look at the second hand market at this point as they are all sold out. Craigslist and ebay will always have deals, especially as the time draws closer and people want to offload their passes. I went three years ago and two years ago and had an absolutely great time so I highly recommend it as a Chicago summer experience if you are interested. 

Pitchfork Music Festival is another Chicago festival I have attended. This one tends to host slightly less mainstream acts but still ones that are usually household names. Taking place in Union Park, the bill this year features Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, Kendrick Lamar, and St. Vincent. The atmosphere is very different at Pitchfork than at Lolla. I would say it’s a bit more relaxed and a bit more attention goes to those oddball acts. And that’s just kind of the nature of it, being Chicago’s alternative music festival. Tickets for Pitchfork will be easier to come by and I would say I had just as good of a time at Pitchfork three years ago as I did at Lolla. 

In addition to the big boys, Chicago hosts a variety of other smaller festivals that are no less outstanding in quality. I personally hope to make it to the Chicago Jazz Festival this year. You can check out Timeout Chicago’s breakdown of the area’s festivals here and see which one(s) get you most excited. Summer is the time to sit on grass and soak up some quality music and here in Chicago, you have no shortage of opportunities to do just that. 

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week: 

As I have mentioned before, many of my favorite memories of listening to music come from my days mowing lawns in my neighborhood in high school. I used to listen to a LOT of Weezer while doing that. And seeing as how it is the twenty-year anniversary of their debut album being released, I figured I’d share my favorite track from that very album. We will always have Weezer to help us revel in our teenage angst. And, to me, that is a beautiful thing. 


Summer's Nearly Here. Whatever Shall You Do?

By Tyler Esselman / May 12, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​Being on the quarter system has its blessings and its curses, people. Be warned. It’s great because you get to start school after Labor Day, you can fit in tons of classes, and get that sweet six-week break in the winter. Although, it should be noted that classes start so late in the fall because spring quarter doesn’t end until the middle of June. Nope, that’s not a typo. As such, the middle of May can be a tough time when you start to see all of your friends at other schools posting on their social media outlets of choice about their classes ending and basking in the revelry of a new summer while you have four weeks left of school. It’s rough but doable.

Anyway, that’s part of it. But! Think about all the stuff you will eventually be able to do here in Chicago when summer does come! SO much good stuff. As I learn about cool attractions and events, I’ll put them up here so that you’ll know about them if you decide to come visit Chicago and DePaul during those sweet summer months. This is one that I’ve known about for a while but haven’t had the pleasure of partaking of yet: every summer, the City of Chicago puts on a film series on Tuesday nights in Millennium Park. Patrons can sit in the seating at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or bring blankets and other picnic accouterments and watch from the field behind the pavilion. This summer, they have some great films such as "O Brother Where Art Thou?" and "Field of Dreams" on the docket as well as many others. This is a great way to get out of the house and get together with the Chicago community. There are also concerts in the same pavilion throughout the summer. Last year, Glen Hansard, who was featured on last week’s Hot Track of the Week, played and I was despondent upon learning I missed it. 

The city puts on some really great, free events throughout the summer and you should definitely peruse their website to see if any strike your fancy. So much to do and only 10 weeks of summer in which to do it so start your lists now! 

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week: 

I believe I have posted some Sufjan before and here’s some more. This one hit me right in the gut on my walk home the other night. This guy’s just an absolutely incredible musician all around. 


We Must Not Forget to Serve

By Tyler Esselman / May 7, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​This past weekend I participated in an event called Vincentian Service Day. This event is an annual service day put on by DePaul University, where thousands of DePaul students, faculty members, and administrators go out into the community and do service to honor the legacy of our namesake, St. Vincent de Paul. For those of you who don’t know already, St. Vincent de Paul was noted for his dedication to serving the poor and strengthening the community around him. That legacy is part of the Vincentian values on which our university is founded. 

I did this event last year and had a great time helping clean up the garden for the retirement home that is situated next door to The Theatre School building. However, this year we had a new site. We were at the Mission of Our Lady of Angels and Saints in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. Humboldt Park is southwest of the Loop and it is a pretty rough area. We spent most of the day helping to clean up the community center and church of the mission. What was most inspiring about working there was the dedication of the priests and nuns that live there. They were a wonderfully cheery bunch that greatly appreciated our help and were utterly devoted to all of the community members that came through the mission throughout the day. Since I was raised Catholic, I have some familiarity with the community of the Catholic Church and this one sticks out in my mind. Despite the fact that my thoughts about religion have shifted over the last several years, the thing that will always stick with me about being a part of the church community is the truly selfless people that you will often find there. Those are the people that volunteer on a regular basis out of the goodness of their hearts to make their community a better place and spread goodwill to their fellow man. It inspired me to make sure that I incorporate more service into my life regularly because it makes me feel exponentially more human and gives me direction whenever I feel lost. 

Vincentian Service Day is a great opportunity to remind you how important it is to serve your fellow man and just how badly some people right here in our community need our help. If you want to find out more about St. Vincent de Paul’s mission to help the impoverished, check out this link​

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week: 

This week has to be Glen Hansard. As of late, I’ve been trying to find ways to inspire myself artistically and Mr. Hansard never fails to do that for me. His ferocity and passion with his craft are astounding and I defy you not to feel something stir deep down in your gut when you hear him bust this number out. 


BFA vs. BA: It's Your Choice

By Tyler Esselman / April 29, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​So you’ve decided you want to major in theatre, huh? As a wise professor of mine would say, welcome to the group. As you, you budding theatre artist, will find out, if you intend to major in theatre, you’re going to have to choose between pursuing a BA or BFA. The Bachelor of Arts versus the Bachelor of Fine Arts essentially differentiates between a non-conservatory program and a conservatory program. And they each have their merits. 

Let me just preface this description by saying that The Theatre School here only offers a BFA in terms of an undergraduate theatre major. We do offer a theatre studies minor but the BFA’s all we got for majors. Just FYI. Anyway, the inclusion or exclusion of that F in your degree abbreviation is going to denote the volume of curricular theatre work you do. In admissions, we say it’s about an 80/20 split. 80% Theatre School classes and 20% liberal studies classes. In a BA program, that split is going to be slightly closer to even. In addition, the BFA is more focused in a particular field. For instance, the BFA in Acting focuses nearly all of its curriculum in acting related classes with the same being said for the BFA in Lighting Design, Sound Design, Playwriting, etc. You get the picture. The BA is going to have a much broader scope of curriculum. You might have the option to take a lot of classes in a variety of different branches of the theatre. That presents one of the advantages of a BA: it is more flexible and if you want to have a broader education in theatre that might be the option for you. It all depends on the college theatre experience you want to have! 

I’m very happy with choosing the conservatory path because I knew I wanted to have a very focused, pre-professional education in acting and TTS has given me just that. One of the best things about it is that it is a combination of abstract and technical. I am taking a movement class right now that is focused in the Michael Chekhov acting technique which is based on how we move our energy around on stage and how we can use the dynamics of our body and energy to great effect on stage. I’m also taking an audition technique class where we do mock auditions and learn in a very technical sense how to best audition for professional productions. Both are essential to a theatre artist, but very different in terms of how they fit into the actor’s toolbox. 

So you’ll have to decide which path is for you. As we all know, many very important theatre artists come from very different educational backgrounds and some from none at all but, in my opinion, having the hunger to learn the craft is the most important part. 

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week: 

Some Blur for you this week. This one always gets stuck in my head for a good couple days after I hear it or think about it. Enjoy. 


The Moth: The Perfect Forum to Share Your Story

By Tyler Esselman / April 21, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​Who wants a cool thing to do in Chicago? Anyone? Ok, here you go! 

Do you like stories? Listening to or telling them, either way, you’ll love The Moth. The Moth is a series of events that happens nationwide that is dedicated to celebrating the art of storytelling and intent on bringing people together to listen and share those stories. I went to The Moth a few months ago with a couple friends at the Haymarket Pub and Brewery in the West Loop. It was a StorySlam which meant several people went up throughout the evening to tell a five-minute story and were judged by randomly selected judges in the crowd. The person whose story got the highest score at the end of the night was the winner and qualified to go onto the Grand Slam where they would share their story with the winners of other Slams that had happened over the course of the year. Not every story was great but it was still great to see people going up there and taking a genuine risk. Each definitely shared a little bit about themselves in a very vulnerable way. And, as I’ve come to find out more and more over the course of my time at The Theatre School, art is all about vulnerability in one form or another. Anyway, it was a great event. The crowd was very supportive and attentive and I left the event on cloud nine, super inspired to share a story at a future event. I haven’t yet been back but I hope to go very soon. If this sounds like something that would interest you, their next Chicago event is on April 29th at Martyrs’ on Lincoln. Admission is $16 for the limited pre-sale tickets and $8 for the even more limited amount of tickets at the door. Oh, also, at this particular venue it will be only 21 and over. Sorry if that counts you out. But keep an eye out for future events if you can’t make this one. Here’s their website for more information about their mission and the events that they conduct all the time. 

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week: 

So, on a whim because I had a tech rehearsal cancelled this past Thursday, I was able to see The National on the second night of their three night stand at the Chicago Theatre with two of my good buddies. I have been obsessed with them lately and this concert only deepened that madness. It was an absolutely beautiful show. Honestly, it felt like it was their first time playing for a crowd. For one of the world’s biggest rick bands right now, to be able to give off that vibe is no mean feat. Cheers! 


Show and Tell on the next Level

By Tyler Esselman / April 15, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​In the third year of the BFA Acting program, the focus is on classical text. As such, our first two quarters were focused on Shakespeare and I loved that. I really came to love the Bard’s work on a much deeper level through the fall and winter. This quarter, however, we have shifted gears and will be exploring the work of noted South African playwright Athol Fugard during the second half of the quarter. For the first half, my class is actually doing something that we haven’t done too much of as part of our curriculum in the program but has always been meaningful when we do: writing and sharing our own text. 

It’s a special kind of sharing to share something that you have written yourself. There’s a very particular kind of vulnerability in that but it has been very enlightening so far this quarter. We have written open scenes that explore relationships that intrigue us and play with the physical sounds of language, a monologue adapted from an established piece to fit our own experience, and a letter from a person of our choice to another to explore how that particular person might employ language. It all comes down to the appreciation of language in all its forms and how it encapsulates our humanity. To me, that is the baseline passion that an actor must have because really relishing and rolling around in the spoken word is what brings a performance to life from the very beginning and will lead to a true physical embodiment of a role. 

Writing our own work is also useful in a practical sense as theatre artists. Going into such a competitive field, the only way one can guarantee his or herself work is to make it on their own. If an artist has the ability to audition for other work while also composing and developing personal work, then he or she will never be unemployed. If you’re going to be an artist, you can’t wait for anyone to give you permission. You have to go out there and just start creating. That’s an important lesson that can serve many young artists trying to find their sea legs. 

 Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week: 

This weekend, I saw The Theatre School’s production of a play called Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph. Besides being a very well-done production featuring two of my friends, the sound design by first year BFA Sound Design major Connor Wang was fantastic. The incorporation of this little ditty particularly hit me. Enjoy. 


This One's for the High School Juniors! It's Your Turn Now.

By Tyler Esselman / April 10, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​By now, most of the visitors we have been getting at the admissions office at The Theatre School are already admitted students or current juniors in high school since admissions decisions for this coming year have already come out. As such, I thought I’d throw out some advice for those current juniors, rising seniors, in high school who are interested in applying to The Theatre School. 

One of the things many people don’t immediately know about being a student at The Theatre School is that we still do have to complete Liberal Studies courses outside of TTS. These are things like the writing seminar WRD 104 and quantitative reasoning LSP 120. In addition to those classes, there are a certain amount of electives that can be satisfied in more diverse ways. You have a history requirement and a science requirement as well as a few others. Never fear, though. The general understanding is that, as a TTS student, if you take at least one Liberal Studies course outside of TTS each quarter then you will be able to complete those credits no problem. That being said, one of the best things you can do is take as many AP or IB or other college courses in high school so that you can get transfer credit. I was able to do this and, because of it, I have been able to take a lot of classes that were not required but simply interested me. Credit from high school transferring isn’t guaranteed but it’s absolutely worth it if it does end up applying. You’ll be able to individualize your college experience so much more. 

In terms of preparing to apply to The Theatre School specifically, now is the time to start searching for a monologue for your audition or putting together a portfolio for your interview. If you’re auditioning for the Acting major, it’s important that your two-minute contemporary monologue is as familiar to you as any monologue has ever been. You want it to mean a great deal to you and show off who YOU are as an individual artist. If you really, truly care about the piece you’re doing and do the requisite work to prepare it, then you’ll have a great audition no matter what. For those interviewing for the design/tech majors, you want to start compiling those portfolios of not only work that applies specifically to the given area of design but also includes your artistic endeavors in other areas. Are you a photographer? Do you paint? Or maybe build sculptures out of toothpicks? Include that stuff! That’s the kind of stuff that really shows who you are. Theatre Studies interview? You want to start thinking about that writing sample. What inspires you about theatre? Why do you want to live in it? Where do you see it going? Those are the kind of things you can keep in mind as you are applying to not only The Theatre School, but also any other theatre major around the country. They’re the most important questions a theatre artist must ask her or himself. 

It may seem early, but you can never be too prepared for an audition or interview! And you should definitely make the time to come visit us this summer and see what you think of the building. It’s good to have an idea of the place you’ll be spending four years before you apply. 

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week: 

This week’s Hot Track is courtesy of my great friend Addi, who will be joining us as a Blue Demon this fall! She introduced me to this up-and-coming band from Ridgewood, New Jersey. It’s perfect spring, driving-around music. Hope you enjoy! 


Springtime = Baseball Time

By Tyler Esselman / April 2, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
​Welcome back! Spring quarter is upon us. It’s finally getting warm with just a smidge of regularity and, I’ll tell you, that’s more than a smidge OK with me. Inevitably, this blog would take a turn toward my real passion in life. That, of course, is St. Louis Cardinals baseball. As a diehard Cardinals fan, you might imagine, I’ve encountered animosity from Chicago sports fans but, on the contrary, I have never experienced anything of the like. Honestly, this probably has to do with the wide gulf separating the recent success of our respective teams but it’s still very comforting to know that I can live on the North Side here and support any team I darn well please. 

If you haven’t experienced baseball in Chicago yet, it’s a must. You have two storied franchises inhabiting our fine city and each offers very unique baseball watching experiences. Start with the Cubs and Wrigley Field. It’s one of the oldest teams in baseball and I have no qualms in saying that Wrigley Field is my favorite stadium that I’ve visited so far (in the non-Busch Stadium category, of course). It’s a remnant of simpler times in baseball and always boasts a stellar atmosphere no matter how well or poorly the Cubbies are doing. And, pro tip, it won’t be long before the Cubs are good again, in my opinion. Theo Epstein, the man who broke the Boston Red Sox title drought, is more than likely going to be able to get the Cubs the best possible chance of breaking the Curse of the Billy Goat within the next ten years. (That curse, FYI, is the one that has prevented the Cubs from winning the World Series since 1908.) 

Then you have the White Sox down at US Cellular Field on the South Side. The Sox have a more recent World Series title from 2005 but are also not sitting well within the American League Central. But they made some interesting moves in the off-season and the baseball season is LONG so it’s too early to count them out for sure. As for their home field, it isn’t quite as charming as Wrigley but still makes for a unique experience. I’ve been to a handful of games at both stadiums and they’re hard to truly compare because they’re so different. And, obviously, I want everyone to go to baseball games all the time so I believe you should make time to attend games at both. 

If you’re looking to find great deals on tickets, look no further than This site organizes all the internet postings for tickets and ranks them by which are the best and worst deals. You can find great stuff here, especially as the given game gets closer and people need to get rid of tickets. I’ll be attending as many games as possible this spring and summer and checking back in here with my thoughts and predictions. Hope to see you at a game! 

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week: 

The Hot Track could only be Lake Street Dive this week. They’re a fantastic band out of Boston that my sister and I have been listening to for the past couple months. We had the pleasure of being able to see them this past week in St. Louis and they were marvelous. This is the best new band of the year, people. 


Shakespeare as It Was Meant to Be Played Right Here in Chicago

By Tyler Esselman / March 19, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
Last night, I experienced an amazingly cool piece of theatre that was unlike anything I had ever seen. I attended the Backroom Shakespeare Project’s production of Julius Caesar. It was one of those moments that fill you with artistic vigor and makes you want to go out and grab the world by the horns.

The mission of the Backroom Shakespeare Project is to put Shakespeare’s plays into a context where they feel at home. As such, they perform the plays in the back of a bar without lights or sets. They encourage people to come and go as they need to and keep their phones on. And text if they need to! Waitresses move through the action bringing beer and burgers to the hungry groundlings and the actors adjust for them rather than the other way around. What’s more, the company rehearses in a style more similar to that of Shakespeare’s actors than is the standard today. There is no director, one rehearsal to figure out fights, entrances, and exits, and someone remains on book during the performance in case one of the actors forgets a line. But, worry not, they serve the text with as much gravitas as it deserves and the ultimate effect is a performance that sucks the audience in and includes them in the world of Shakespeare as much as he would have wanted. What really struck me was the community of people there. They were from all age groups and seemed to be of varied interests and professions. But they came for the unifying experience of theatre and the performers told the tragic story of Caesar and Brutus with absolute class. I felt at times like I was at The Globe in London because of the energy and humor and honesty that were constant throughout the play. That’s what theatre is all about: honesty, community, excitement, and acceptance. There was no judgment, only welcoming energy and that made it a truly memorable experience.

Their next production will be As You Like It on the 5th of May. I’m not quite sure where it will be held but check out their website to find out more about how you can experience this wonderful theatrical event. You will not regret it!

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

I’ve been feeling a little down lately with this persisting cold weather. I’m just SO ready for spring and the warmth and reinvigoration that come with it. But here’s one of the songs I like to drink deeply from when I’m feeling blue or just pining for the sunshine.

Some Ideas for a Solid Visit to DePaul and Chicago

By Tyler Esselman / March 14, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
Ah, finally. The weather has decided to relent ever so slightly and give us Chicago residents highs in the balmy 40s. You know what that means? All you prospective DePaulians out there should come visit us! Yes, that’s right. Here comes my guide on how to best visit our fine institution and enjoy a little taste of the city as well. I’ll preface this by saying that a majority of my guide will be food-based. Hope that’s OK with all of you.

Any who, first thing you should do is schedule your visit. If you’re a junior or senior in high school, you most likely have a couple excused absences with which to visit colleges? Use at least one of them on us! If you can, make a weekend of it! Come up here on a Saturday and schedule your visit for the Monday thereafter. That way you can spend a good chunk feeling out the city and seeing the sights. If I were doing it all over again, I’d arrive on Saturday in the early afternoon and catch a show at the Steppenwolf that evening. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, they always have a production worth seeing. But before the show, I’d grab dinner at Pequod’s at Clybourn and Webster. My absolute favorite pizza in the city and a great place to watch a Blackhawks game if the stars align and there’s one on that night. On Sunday, I would go check out the Bean in Millennium Park. Totally cliché and touristy but entirely necessary. You then have an entire day to choose your own adventure. You could go to the Skydeck at the Willis Tower, go to the museums or the Art Institute, catch an artsy flick at the Gene Siskel Film Center, or shop on Michigan Avenue. The city is your oyster. If I were you, I’d hop over to Wicker Park at some point and browse through the shops over there. In particular, you should spend a good long while in Myopic Books, one of the best bookstores I’ve ever encountered anywhere. That evening, dinner could be at Topo Gigio in Old Town if Italian is striking your fancy or Longman & Eagle in Logan Square if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous. They have a unique take on classic American dishes and a wonderful atmosphere that will show you a side of the city you probably wouldn’t see if you stuck to the beaten path. Pay us a visit the next day and grab a classic Chicago dog at Chicago’s Dog House on Fullerton and no one could deny that you will have had a pretty stellar introduction to our fair city.

Visiting colleges is a very exciting time for someone in the latter stages of high school and can make for some great travel memories. Just remember to try to take in a bit of whatever town or city the school you are visiting inhabits while you’re there. It could be your home away from home for the next four years.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Spring always gets me in the mood for a road trip and here’s the song that will be the first one pouring out of my speakers when I inevitably hit the road sometime this spring or summer. Come on Spring, just get here! I know you can do it!

Dancing for a Darn Good Cause

By Tyler Esselman / March 5, 2014 / / Twitter / Facebook /
Since I was raised Catholic, I tend to be pretty well versed in the intricacies of the church and the different sub-groups that comprise it. In particular, the orders of priests that make up the priesthood of the Catholic Church are particularly interesting. My family has always been affiliated with the Congregation of the Mission or, more simply, the Vincentians which, by no coincidence, is the order DePaul is intimately connected with. This order follows the tenets of Saint Vincent de Paul and the reason I get down with the Vincentians so much is their commitment to service to others. In my opinion, that is the most important characteristic and the one that sets them apart specifically from the other orders in the priesthood.

By that token, taking time to do community service has always been a great desire of mine and something I strive to do as often as possible. Since coming to school and my schedule becoming more and more jam-packed at The Theatre School, I have made sure to take advantage of some of the institutional opportunities for service at DePaul. One that I haven’t taken part in so far but hope to this year is DemonTHON. That is our twenty-four hour dance marathon that raises money for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. It’s a great event that brings the DePaul community together to raise funds for an incredibly worthy cause. If you have a chance check out the DemonTHON website and consider giving to the cause. Each and every cent that is raised is given to the Lurie Children’s Hospital so you can rest assured that your donation will be put to good use. And, if my TTS schedule permits, you’ll be able to see me there for those twenty-four hours, dancing like a fool.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

In the world of film music, few directors, in my opinion, know how to pick a soundtrack for a film quite like Wes Anderson. This weekend at the Music Box Theater, there was a celebration of Wes Anderson’s films in anticipation of his new film The Grand Budapest Hotel. As such, I finally got to see Rushmore, which I think has taken my heart as my favorite of Mr. Anderson’s films. Of course, I haven’t seen all of his films yet, but this song graced the last few beautiful moments of the film and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.