DeBlogs > Tyler Esselman
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)
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 years. One last hurrah is just what we need. And we’re going to do it in style.
Just trying to keep moving forward, ya dig?
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!
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.
Hozier's really been blowing up lately and this is my favorite cut of his that I've heard. Enjoy!
I’m on another Andrew Bird kick lately and here’s a track of his that struck me the moment I heard it.