Articles by Tyler Esselman

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)

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.


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.

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!