Polish Movie Posters by Reece Turner

I found out recently that when communist Poland showed foreign movies they would replace their posters with ones of their own creation. This practice isn’t unusual in and of itself (a lot of countries still do it to this day), but what is unusual is the art on the new posters. Where the originals usually featured shots of the cast placed overtop an image of the film’s setting, these new posters were stylized and striking, works of art on their own merit. In the spirit of sharing around some of these alternate posters (and maybe figuring out where and how I can get my hands on them), here are some of my favorites.


Raging Bull:









Raging Bull is a deeply uncomfortable movie. It’s about a boxer who becomes increasingly violent and paranoid as his career descends, and this poster captures that to a T. Compared to the original’s black and white still of Robert De Niro, there’s no contest.


Weekend at Bernie’s:







This one feels like a bit of an odd choice to me. I could imagine this (or one in a similar style) fitting with a surreal movie like Eraserhead rather than an outright comedy—although maybe that works for a movie like Weekend? I’m still split, personally, but on its own I love it.










This one’s interesting. I feel like it fits more for the first movie with its 70s futurism and greater focus on body horror compared to the more action-driven sequel. Still, it’s not hard to admit it fits the general terror of the series, especially with those veins at the bottom that expand like tree roots.


Finally, and my personal favorite, is the poster for Danton, a French movie by a Polish director about one of the heads of the Reign of Terror in his final weeks. It’s a somber, cynical movie about a somewhat poetic downfall and this is the poster we got:









Versus the Polish version:










Incredibly different emotions are being conveyed in these two posters. It’s an example of the massive divide between artistic interpretation, such that two poster artists can watch the same movie and represent parts of its tone and themes with such stark difference.

My Biggest Fears by Jaimee Martin

Among my six-person family, I am known to have many ‘biggest fears’, usually signified by a dramatic “…oh my god. That is my biggest fear.” Whenever I’m able to, I try to write them down in my Notes app so can ruminate over all of the simultaneously real and irrational anxieties caged in my brain. Some of my fears are intrusive thoughts disguised as fears and some of them are legitimate–I swear–but I’ve decided to share all of them with you. Maybe you’ll even relate to a few.

Happy reading : )


-being cut into a million pieces if i go near a sharp object, especially an electric blade

-being buried alive

-not getting my ib diploma

-drowning in a large body of water

-a spider crawling on my butt when i’m going pee

-being forced to star on “naked and afraid”

-the ocean at night because it seems like an endless, dark abyss

-my lips being permanently chapped

-a human trafficker hiding under my car and cutting my ankles

-actually liking maroon 5

-getting into a car accident on the freeway

-being told a really good secret and then i can’t keep it cuz i have a fat mouth

-arby’s, burger king, subway, panda express

-losing everything i love in a housefire

-having a receding hairline

-impaling my foot or toe

-developing a nut allergy

-spiders/bugs crawling all over me when i’m laying down

-getting accused of terrorism at the airport

-being told ‘no’ to something i really want

-my heart stopping in my sleep

-seeing my children go on “naked and afraid”

-impaling myself

-being arrested for something i didn’t do

-being taken away to the spring court forever

-that some of the people closest to me whom i love are figments of my imagination and everyone else goes along with it to keep me stable

-being accused of plagiarism

-only being able to watch nicolas cage movies

-not being able to get out of a ‘bury me in the sand’ situation (similar to being buried alive)

-throwing up on everyone

-being so sociopathic that no one can tell because i’m so manipulative i can’t be diagnosed but i’m actually dangerous

-penn rescinding their decision

-laughing at the officer if i got pulled over

-being stuck in sleep paralysis forever

-getting a foot cramp when i need to walk across a stage or somewhere important

-getting lice and having to shave all my hair off

-that i will be the only one to wake up in the matrix

-being reincarnated as a bug

-being drafted into the military and truly not being able to get out of it

-being naked and unable to get clothes

-dying from a virus

-being alive for the end of the world

-ew face blood ew

-not being able to get one of mr. juli’s songs out of my head

Let Me Cry About Gay Pirates by Beckett Smith

Do yourself a favor and go watch Our Flag Means Death. I mean it. Stop what you’re doing, put down your phone or your laptop, and watch this freaking show. Then come back and read this, because there will be spoilers and I refuse to censor myself for your comfort.

Alright, are you back? Are you outraged? Frothing at the mouth over that ending? Don’t you want to know what happens next? (Imagine dealing with that all while waiting for stupid HBO to renew it).

Me too. And good news! They’ve finished filming the second season, and I’m hoping will start releasing before summer starts. So here are my hopes and predictions for the second season.

First off, my hopes.

Like so many other fans of the show, I am hoping desperately for a reunion for the found family that was built up in the first season. If you’ve followed my instructions, then you’re still grappling with the pain that the finale caused. Every couple you’ve grown attached to, every friendship and line of trust, broken apart like it brought the writers of the show joy to do so.

My hopes are that Stede and Ed get the happy reunion they deserve, free of the pain and heartbreak that they were left with. I hope that they don’t waste anytime on petty fights and anger. They both spent too much time unhappy to get caught up on this. I’m also desperate for Lucius to be okay. The rest of the crew too, but I’m less worried about them since they weren’t pushed overboard.

I’m worried that reality won’t match my expectations though.

If anything, I think that Stede and Ed will not be reunited in this season. I’m sure that someday they’ll find their way back to each other, but for now, that is but a distant dream. Well, I DO think that they’ll find each other this season, but I think they’ll spend the entire thing trying to kill each other. Which, you know, fair enough. Sometimes you have to try to murder the person you love before you can let yourself be vulnerable with them.

I do think that most of the crew will be okay. Lucius’s death wasn’t final enough to have been real. His character is too important to be killed off like that. And Stede had already found the rest of the Revenge’s crew in the end of season 1.

I’m excited to see what I’ve gotten right and wrong, and can’t wait for the season 2 to release.


I’m Afraid! By Matilda Spadoni


With a new year, comes the wave of impending responsibilities. Important dates and milestones. This year, I turn 18. This year, I apply to college. This year I could get in to college. Or I could get rejected. This blows my mind. Things I have thought of as the end all be all, are fast approaching, and there is not much I can do about it.

Recently, the Instagram algorithm has been showing me college admittance prediction videos. Essentially, students submit their test statistics, GPA, extracurricular activities, legacies, etc, along with the schools they applied to, to some random guy . He then predicts whether or not they will get into those schools. A part two is usually posted with the students actual admission results.

Predictably, these videos send me down the “I’m not good enough” spiral.

I consider myself to be a strong student. I am proud of my grades. I participate in sports and have been long committed to multiple school extracurriculars. But I’ve never started a business that makes 5K a month, I am not a varsity athlete, or a captain. I didn’t win the Debate National Competition, and I’m not fluent in any other languages. My practice ACT tests come back far from perfect, and my goal of a 33 is looking pretty far away.

I know I will get into college, and I can be happy and find success wherever I end up. But there is something scary and final in not going to the college I’ve dreamed about since I was ten years old. The college that has held a place in the back of my head even when I convinced myself I didn’t want to go, or that I wasn’t going to get in.

With upcoming college tours, I almost want to find a couple new dream schools. Places with new possibilities, and places I can see myself excelling. I have been going on college tours since I was ten years old. My now 24 and 21 year old sisters toured everywhere, and dragged me along in the process. In these young formative years I found myself already creating biases about where I wanted to go. It was these years I walked the campuses pretending I was a prospective student, wondering if I could “really see myself here”. My parents were always in the background reminding me that this will one day be me, but that felt eons away. In these eons, It became a past time to look up the acceptance rates of every prestigious college I could think of and ogle at the low low percentages. I loved clicking on the admission pages and learning everything I could, hovering over the financial aid calculator button, and reading every single one of the majors and minors, deciding what my fate would be.

Now that this is the year I apply to schools, I should probably revisit those admission pages. I should probably click on that financial aid calculator and read every one of the majors and minors.

The end all be all has arrived! And it is super freaking scary.

I hope that by the end of 2023 I will know where I’m going to college, but I can only imagine where this year is going to take me.

Judging ChatGPT’s Responses to My Questions by Sarah Marcus

As we all know, ChatGPT is becoming a headline all around us. Students are looking at how they can use this to solve their homework, and teachers are worried that they will no longer be able to catch plagiarism. However, I decided to ask chat GPT some much more important questions that it would surely not know the answer to. I will be judging ChatGPT’s responses to my very random and unanswerable questions.

My first question is very straightforward and has a clear answer; should I do my homework?

The clear answer is no. I did not want to do my homework. The failure of this first response made me worried about the harder questions I was about to ask it. Because of this concern, I decided to ask a very simple question: name a college. However, I was again disappointed by the response. While the first answer was perfectly adequate, though it gave me more history than I asked for, when I went to generate a new response and then generate another one, the only college it would give me the name of was Harvard. All of the thousands of colleges there are, and it only gave me Harvard. That is about the most basic answer anyone can get. This amazing new technology advancement was not looking that amazing.

So, I wondered if maybe it was my fault. Maybe I was undermining its intelligence, so I decided to ask it a very controversial question, one that people have been discussing for ages, but there’s no way for an AI to know. I decided to give it a shot. I asked, “who is the hottest celebrity?”

Although I didn’t receive an answer to the very important question I was asking, I gained a lot of respect for ChatGPT based on its answer. Clearly, ChatGPT has very strong values, which I support. This response not only demonstrated good values but the AI seemed to judge me for asking such a question. Why was I judging people based on their appearance? Maybe ChatGPT does know all the answers.

Because of this newfound faith, I decided I would up the difficulty of my questions. So I asked it what TV show I should watch? As it hopefully knows nothing about me, I was worried whether it would give me good responses. And honestly, I was pretty impressed.While this wasn’t the most unique list of shows I’ve ever seen, it did give me good recommendations. Specifically Breaking Bad, The Office and Handmaid’s Tale. Does it know that I’m trying to write my English IA on the Handmaid‘s Tale? Does this thing know me? Also does it know I’m from New Mexico? Because everyone and their mom has recommended Breaking Bad for me and I know I NEED to watch it. And then obviously The Office. I love The Office. Maybe ChatGPT does know all the answers. Because even though it has no idea who I am, it gave some pretty good recommendations. Even the recommendations I haven’t specifically mentioned aren’t bad. My grandfather is constantly referencing clips from The Crown about some theoretical family member who is being portrayed in that show.

So I rounded it off with a very hard question. Just like many teenagers, I suspected that ChatGPT has a secret note in its phone where it keeps a list of baby names. During my first attempt, it only gave me the most popular names. I wanted to know what unique names were on its baby’s name list. Sadly this list did somewhat disappoint. But I do now understand the theme it has for unique baby names. So based on the questions, my opinion is still up in the air about whether this is the most amazing thing ever. But I have to say, based on what I’ve seen, ChatGPT does have some pretty good answers (and also some pretty bad ones).

The Issue with Low-income Women of Color and Voting by Jakeia C. Banks

A young black girl voting on election day

When I entered AP Government, I wondered how my passion for race relations would intersect with this curriculum. I looked around at my peers and realized that I was one of two Black people in the class. Among the eighteen pale and tan faces, there were two brown ones that stuck out like a sore thumb. I often wondered if I belonged in this classroom, and if my opinions would be seen as worthwhile contributions to the atmosphere. This dilemma led me down a rabbit hole that I finally dug myself out of by the grace of all things holy. I started to reflect on the AP Gov curriculum and how the lack of representation starts in school but eventually extends outward into the makeup of our government, and our laws.
When I started considering the diversity in our government, I inevitably began thinking about how that diversity starts with the people. As the American people, we have the power to change our government by beholding the ballot. When researching, I found that Women of Color (WOC), primarily Black women, were a big voting turnout. There has been a higher percentage of WOC who turnout consistently at the polls than their white counterparts and that was something I was glad to see. But as I dug deeper, I realized that there was no distinction in class. There was no distinction between low-income, middle-class, or upper-middle-class WOC who vote. It all was compiled into one category and that seemed a big problem. I thought back to my family members who were low-income and didn’t vote and realized that those women exist a billion times over in this country. Whether unaware of their power in voting or living in places where there is a lack of information and resources on voting, it is still very, very sad.
I thought about the lack of WOC in Congress compared to their white and male counterparts. The lack of representation for WOC in Congress can greatly contribute to lower-middle-class or low-income WOC feeling as though their voices don’t matter in elections. This is also a pressing issue coupled with the lack of information to low-income households about voting in the first place.

Clothilde Ewing
Clothilde Ewing, a Shaker alum, journalist, and author, agreed to work with me on this project. Mrs. Ewing worked on Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Her first time working in communications, she served as the spokesperson for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and other marginalized people as it related to the election and the vision of the campaign overall. She was responsible for pitching things and developing stories that would reach marginalized people.
When I asked her what she thought the biggest barrier was for low-income women of color participating in local and national elections, she said, “I don’t think we can understate the lack of diversity and how it is involved in the people’s desire to be a part of the political process.” A scarcity of people who look like the majority of constituents can project the idea that there is no use in using your voice in elections. But although that is true, Ewing also expressed that people envision that they can change the political atmosphere at the drop of a dime and can get impatient when it takes months or years to achieve even a fraction of their goal.
Low-income WOC may feel as though their needs, whether culturally or community-wise, are not being met and lose hope in the political process as a result. But when the community is at the forefront of people’s minds, the power to change Congressional makeup starts with local elections. Local elections set the precedent for statewide and national elections. “The elections matter… maybe you can’t see or touch them every day but they will matter once a right is taken away.” With the current atmosphere of Congress today, that statement rings diligently with the recent controversy of Roe v. Wade.
It can certainly feel disheartening when looking at the state of government today as a woman or a person of color. But living through the intersection of both, it can feel gut-wrenching looking at politicians debate over rights that were once thought inalienable. Many lose hope in the system and don’t bother with correcting it. When I mentioned that, Mrs. Ewing said, “I think people get in the way of themselves when they allow the perfect to be in the way of the good.”
With representation being a major motivator as to why many low-income WOC don’t vote, the closing statement of my interview with Mrs. Ewing hits home to most and will be true for a very long time.
“Be the change you want to see. Be the standard you want to set.”

Councilwoman Carmella Williams
Below is my email recapping an interview with Shaker Heights city councilwoman Carmella Williams.
Hi, Carmella! It’s been some time since our phone call in November, I hope that you’re well. When we discussed the ways to encourage low-income women of Color (WOC) to vote, your passion was infectious. When I started this project, I wondered if anyone else would understand how big of an issue this is. But as I talked to you, I felt understood. The absence of low-income WOC who vote is a problem that deals with information and resources on voting, the legislative process, and how an individual can truly make a change by beholding the ballot. There is a lack of circulation in low-income communities that uplift the aforementioned information. Those communities, which can primarily be made up of people of color, also hold a stigma around the government due to historical negligence. As you know, this can cause a deep mistrust between the government and its constituents who live on the margins of society.
The scarcity of information regarding voting rights in low-income communities coupled with distrust in the government, it is easy to understand why a lot of low-income women of color don’t vote. Whether they feel as though their voices matter or they don’t see any representation on the ballot, it is a disheartening truth. On our call, you made a really good point on how transparency from politicians would benefit marginalized people a lot. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Even if racial representation is not abundant in Congress or local government ten to fifteen years from now, I hope to see plenty of political allyship that addresses the many lives, backgrounds, and experiences of people in this country.
As a member of the city council, you provided some insight into how it feels to be a Black woman in a space that does not largely reflect your identity. You have lived a life that might be different than a lot of your coworkers and bring an important perspective that many local governments desperately need. There is inequity in perspectives when it comes to political conversations nationally and it is such a joy to hear you give voice to that.
You had confided in me that you sometimes feel like your voice doesn’t matter in certain political conversations, and if you feel like this at a local level—I can only begin to imagine how women of Color who work in Congress feel. A lot of WOC, specifically Black women, are often underestimated in our competency and it is frustrating.
At the heart of the topic of getting low-income women of color to vote, representation lives at the center. When I ask myself why Black women only comprise 4.9% of Congress as of January 2021, I am faced with the reasons why low-income women of color don’t vote. I am also faced with the brutal reality of how Black women are treated in this country’s history, legal system, and even the present day. The confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is more than enough proof of that.
Additionally, you mentioned how it comes down to the conversation of funding if a WOC wishes to become a part of the government in any way. To create representation in government, it feels as though you have to pay for it. It takes a tremendous amount of money to run for office and the average American might not have the resources to fulfill that.
There are so many facets and reasons why low-income women of Color don’t vote. Whether there is a lack of information, engagement, or education in the U.S. government or voting rights, all we can do now is look for solutions to this very real and present problem. The only thing we as Americans can do to build a future that reflects this diverse nation is to push for more information and representation in those who represent our ideologies and have the power to change our livelihoods for the better.
Thank you so much for agreeing to talk with me about this! I learned a lot from our conversation and it was a joy to hear your perspective!

My Ideal Eras Tour Setlist By Claire Borden

When Taylor Swift announced her 2023 Eras Tour, my friends and I knew, one way or another, we would be attending her concert. When 10pm on November 15th rolled around, our groupchat was flooded with frenzied texts. Despite our valiant efforts, none of us managed to secure tickets. I went to work that night feeling disappointed but not suprised. Presale had been a bloodbath, and I knew regular sale would be even worse. But hark, the phone rings!

“Hi thank you for calling Gigi’s! How may–?”

My friend cut off my friendly introduction–she didn’t want to make a reservation to our chic and stylish bistro, she needed me to send her a verification code for Taylor Swift tickets! Time was running out, and our cart would expire in less than a minute. I frantically read out those magical four digits, and the rest, as they say, is history. We managed to get five tickets that didn’t break the bank to the May 5th concert in Nashville, with Phoebe Bridgers and Gracie Abrams opening.

Taylor Swift’s incredibly wide discography has led to great speculation about which songs she will actually play. However, the name “Eras Tour” leads me to believe that it will include songs from throughout her career. I am not well versed enough in Taylor lore to be able to make an actual educated guess on what the setlist will be, but I can dream about what songs I would love to hear, no matter how unlikely they may be. I am going to structure this list by choosing three songs from each of Taylors albums, although I do not think that the distribution of songs will be as equal. I am also not structuring my list in any particular order. I don’t know what I want her to open with, close with, or play as an encore. For the purpose of this list, however, I will start with Debut and end with Midnights. So without further ado, here is my dream setlist for the Eras Tour:

OPENER: I don’t know much about Gracie Abrams, although I will make sure to get into her before the concert, so I am going to center this list on Phoebe Bridgers, who happens to be one of my favorite artists.

Motion Sickness- while this isn’t my favorite Phoebe song, it is among her most popular and least depressing songs so I think it belongs in her opening act.

Graceland, Too- I love this song and I just think hearing “she knows she lived through it to get to this moment” live at a Taylor Swift concert would be electric.

Georgia- Another one of my favorites, and I didn’t get to hear it when I went to Phoebe’s concert last fall.

Moon Song- My favorite Phoebe Bridgers song.

I Know The End- Would be AMAZING in concert. Especially the primal scream at the end.

Nothing New- as the only Taylor and Phoebe duet that exists (to my knowledge), this is a given and I know it will deliver.


Teardrops On My Guitar

Picture to Burn

Our Song


White Horse

You Belong With Me

The Way I Loved You


Sparks Fly

Back To December

Dear John


All Too Well (10 minute version)


I Knew You Were Trouble


I Wish You Would

Out Of The Woods

Blank Space


Getaway Car

Don’t Blame Me

Look What You Made Me Do


Cruel Summer


Death By A Thousand Cuts




My Tears Richochet


Champagne Problems


No Body, No Crime


Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve

Lavendar Haze


So that is my dream setlist as of right now. It is definitely subject to change as I become more familiar with her discography in the coming months. No matter what she chooses to play, rest assured I will get my hands on that setlist and learn it like the back of my hand.







The Fox “News” Experience by Rafael Bonilha Van’t Hof

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are not those of the Shaker Writing Center. They are solely the opinions of the author, Rafael Bonilha Van’t Hof.

For most of my life I have had the great misfortune of having to watch Fox News every day. For some ungodly reason my mom watches this crap daily. I used to think she was a closeted Republican, but I think the truth is far worse. I think that she finds it funny how bad this “news station” is and enjoys watching everybody else in the house die a little inside. I am so glad that we have finally convinced her to watch other news channels. If I have to listen to Fox “News” any longer I am going to become the joker.

Fox is such a bad “news station”  that for every hour they spend on air, they spend 20 minutes on news and the rest of the time attacking liberals and woke culture. It is so aggravating to listen to because they are bullying people. I swear whenever I have the displeasure of hearing it it’s “liberals this”, “liberals that”, liberate me from this hell! If there is a problem that they can even remotely blame on liberals, Democrats, or President Biden, they are going to do it. I turn on the TV and I am greeted with people foaming at the mouth talking about liberals.

They also have a major problem with woke culture. They cherry-pick the stupidest things from woke culture and then make fun of it instead of doing any actual reporting. Things like Velma being gay are some of the great time wastes that are the headlines on Fox news. They really have a headline that reads “New House ‘Anti-Woke Caucus’ will push back on ‘wokeness tyranny’ in schools, military, govt, GOP rep says” and “Jordan Peterson issues dire warning: ‘woke’ totalitarian social credit system is ‘highly probable'”. I don’t know how anybody can take any of this seriously.

Seeing all this hatred and anger you might be wondering if they ever feel good about anything. They do, but it is only when the Republicans are doing something. I can count on one hand the amount of times I have heard Fox News say anything bad about them. They treat Republicans so well that Republicans running for positions use Fox interviews as Facebook ads. I remember after a big incident of gun violence (I don’t remember the exact incident but it was around 2020-2021) they had brought on a Republican congressman and asked him if banding guns would stop gun violence. He said no. The presenter then asked him if he was sure and he said yes and moved on. Now this might be a technically correct answer but I think it might be interesting to talk about how evidence shows that preventing people from having guns is proven to reduce their harm (Gun Policies That Save Lives by Brennen Jensen).

But I know somebody out there is saying “They bring Democrats on,” and I can safely say that they bring moderates on. The reason why “moderates” is the key word is because they are usually there to disagree with decisions made by the party. They usually say something to the effect of “I don’t think that (decision made by Democrats) was good and here’s why” or “I think that we should be working together and not so divided by party lines” which is so ironic for Fox.

This treatment also applies to Trump. During the Trump presidency they almost never said anything bad about anything he did. When he was running for reelection they listed “a successful trip to Asia” as one of the things that was great about his presidency. While the January 6th hearing was going on they would not stop talking about how Democrats were horrible and wasting time with it. Now I don’t know about how you feel, reader, but I feel like a president leading an angry mob of his supporters to the capital building and intruding on official processes might need to be looked into a bit.

Now I have done a lot of hating on Fox but I have to be a little fair. I don’t have much to compare it to. The only news stations that play in my house have been Fox, BBC, and Newsy so I don’t have much frame of reference for what a better American news channel would look like, and I might be brain washed by Big GOP but I don’t think that CNN would be much better. I mean a News station that is heavily biased towards one side of the political spectrum might want to present the best image they can for themselves and present everything that the other party is doing wrong. I might be able to watch it without going crazy, but I don’t want my ideas to go unchallenged. Also whenever I hear news going on with Americans speaking somebody starts shouting “LIBERALS” in my head and I blame Fox for this.

To end this off, I would like to reflect about a statement made at the end of  every “Special Report with Brett Baier”, my mom’s favorite Fox segment. At the end of each segment Mr. Baier says “more news is on the way – fair, balanced and unafraid.” I have said my piece about the fair and balanced part of this statement but I would like to draw your attention to the last word. Being “unafraid” implies that they have something to fear at Fox news. I would just like to ask, what does Fox News have to be afraid of? They are backed by DISNEY money. Are they afraid of 13 year olds on Twitter with pride flag profile pics perpetuating woke culture? Are they afraid of the liberals and young people that are rising to important positions in government? What do they have to fear?


How to Support Your Performing Arts Major Friends by El Szalay

We’re officially at the point of the year where the senior class is making college decisions. Letters are coming in and the class of 2023 Instagram page is frequently being updated with my classmates choosing where they’re going to spend next few years of their lives and what they’re going to study. I like the posts as they show up in my following feed, leave a nice comment and keep going about my day. I’m genuinely excited for all of them, don’t get me wrong. But I can’t help but feel a little bitter knowing that even though I’ve submitted all my applications and applied Early Action to all the schools that offered it, I won’t be able to make a decision until March or April.

Here’s the thing- I’ve known basically my entire life what I wanted to study: Theatre, specifically acting. What I didn’t realize, though, is that getting into school for theatre means taking A LOT of extra steps. Beyond the CommonApp and heaps of supplemental essays that all college applicants need to do, I also have monologues to prepare, prescreens to film, auditions to schedule and attend, headshots to take, resumes to revise, interviews to do, and of course, even more waiting. It’s painful. I love the theatre, but sometimes I wish I was as excited about another, more conventional field of study that wouldn’t entail all this extra effort.

I regularly vent my frustrations about all of this. But as I complain and complain about my theatre kid trials and tribulations, I realize that most people don’t understand a word coming out of my mouth. And if they do, they probably have no idea how to respond. In case you’ve heard me complain and wanted to know what on Earth I’m talking about, I’m taking it upon myself to create a simple guide to theatre major terminology and how to respond as we complain. Note that some of this is subjective, and the advice that I give about how to respond to our complaints may not apply to everyone.

Without further ado, I present to you: How to Support Your Performing Arts Major Friends in These Trying Times.

1. If I’m mumbling to myself, please ignore me. (Especially if I have an audition coming up.)

Chances are, I’m just running down my monologues to make sure that they’re memorized and ready to go. Yes, I have been working on these monologues for months now, but if I don’t run them right now and make sure every word is perfect, I might go insane. Please ignore me until I’ve finished running something, it throws me off my rhythm when I’m interrupted.

2. Expect complaining. A lot of it.

Like I said, a lot goes into applying to college for a performing arts major. Every time you think the ranting is over, some audition is in under a week and your theatre major bestie is stressed about something else. Though I’m not expecting you to listen closely, it’s nice to know that people will let me vent my frustrations.

3. If you catch me panic-checking Acceptd, tell me to stop.

If you’ve applied to college, you know how tempting it is to constantly refresh your applicant portal the day you’re expecting a decision. Us performers deal with that too, both for academic applications and prescreens. Acceptd is the website that most schools have us upload prescreen materials to, and the temptation to check it obsessively grows every day when you’re expecting results. Most schools don’t tell us a specific day we’re getting artistic decisions, so I just have to check every day just in case. If you catch me staring down Acceptd and frantically refreshing the page hoping that a result will be there, tell me to stop. More importantly, remind me that I have email notifications on for Acceptd and will get an email whenever a school sends me a decision, therefore there’s no need to check the website that often. As of writing this, though, I’ve gotten all my prescreen results. Chances are, you won’t have to tell me to stop checking Acceptd, but you never know.

4. Know the different types of degrees.

The way I explain it, there are two different flavors of a theatre degree: A Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). A BA is a more holistic theatre degree, meaning I would be studying multiple disciplines of theatre, including acting, set design, directing, costuming, and any other theatre-related field. On the other hand, a BFA is a more conservatory-like style of education, where I would be focusing exclusively on acting. There are also other theatre related BFAs, such as musical theatre and technical design. The BFA programs are the ones that require auditions. Though BA programs don’t require auditions, a lot of them give me the opportunity to audition for scholarships, meaning I’ll be auditioning anyway. If you understand the basics of how studying theatre works, my rants make a lot more sense.

5. Don’t let me forget that BFAs are hard to get into.

I applied to 5 BFA programs, and I only get to audition for 2. The other three rejected me, and one of them was my top school. To be fair, said top school said they would still consider me for their BA, but it still hurts. But the thing with BFAs is that they get thousands of prescreens and can only take about 20 people at most in their program. I didn’t go into my BFA applications and prescreens expecting anything because acceptance rates are so low. However, sometimes it gets to me and I feel like I just got rejected at an Ivy League school because I submitted a bad test score. If I start sounding like I’m talking down on myself (which I don’t do often, but it still happens), tell me to shut up. It has nothing to do with me being a “bad actor” or whatever I’m spewing and everything to do with the program not being right for me. Besides, I’ve gotten into a couple BA schools now, so even if I don’t get into a BFA program, I have some pretty great options to get excited about.

A Look Back by Evan Barragate

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Every January brings a fresh slate, an opportunity to look forward to a new year and all the possibilities it offers. This is why most people love celebrating the new year. And even though I hate a lot of things, I love this time of year. Though it isn’t the forward-looking and resolution-making aspects that make me appreciate the new year. This January, I have decided not to envision the good things that 2023 will bring but to look back on all the worst things that happened in 2022. Yes, I know that lingering over the troubles of the past is a horrible way to go through life. But I also know that no one reading this wants to hear about the highlights of my 2022 — because no one cares, and neither would I. More importantly, I know that no one wants to read my new year’s resolutions (which, of course, I don’t have anyway) because that would be both boring and stupid.

One of the most significant ways that 2022 was different for me than other past years is not because of something I did, but because of something I didn’t do; this something is exercise. For the majority of my years as an adolescent, I have been on a cross country or track team. I fell in love with running in fourth grade when I used to run three miles on my treadmill daily. Looking back, I don’t know where this dedication came from or where it went. A year later, I joined the local cross-country team for young runners and blazed fields like an Olympian. As I got older, I ascended to the middle school level and then the high school team. Working out became second nature; I did it like it was my job — until my junior year, when I got tired of running, quit the team, and never exercised again. 2022 was the first year that I wasn’t on a team. That whole year, I didn’t run, didn’t do sit-ups, didn’t lift weights, and rarely even went for a walk. I just didn’t exercise. Actually, that’s not true. I did go for a run once, and that began the tradition of what I’ll call my “annual exercise.” I went running last week for the first and last time of the new year, keeping up the tradition. So what does this mean? What did I learn from my laziness in 2022? How am I going to be different? Am I going to exercise? The answer to this question is no. I do not plan on exercising. I have learned nothing. I have had no realizations. This past year left my body in terrible shape, and I anticipate that it will be equally terrible after I do nothing about it all of 2023.

Last year did not only stand out as messy because of my personal choices, but also because of my careless mistakes. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the most aware, and at times I make people question whether I am (what one might describe as) all the way there. My negligent nature seemed to reach new heights in 2022, particularly in relation to my car. I received two parking tickets, more than any other year, and the worst part was that I had no idea I had parked illegally. Before being ticketed the second time, I screamed to my friends walking by about how excited I was to have found such a good stop. I said it was so good it should be illegal. When I got into the car, I noticed a big fat ticket on my windshield — and all my joy came crashing down. And wow, my Honda really went through Hell in 2022. Although it was already old at the start of the year, as it had been my sister’s for half a decade, the car entered the new year with minimal blemishes. But by the end, it was covered with bumps, scratches, tarnishes, and dents, looking like more of an eyesore than a puke-yellow kitchen. Though I don’t fret as much about my own car as much as what I have accidentally done to others’. While pulling out of my spot on the high school’s oval, I scratched a very nice-looking car, making someone else’s 2022 worse as well. I did leave a note with my phone number, though, which proves I am not that bad of a person.

Worst of all, 2022 was the first year that I got Covid, a virus that I assumed I was incapable of contracting by that point. I was in New York City the entire time, and I never knew I had it. For five days, I was falling asleep at the table while getting lunch and having prolonged aches, and I had no appetite (even though I had the best food in the world at my fingertips). I didn’t know this meant I was sick, and I had no idea it meant I had Covid. I found out on the fifth day after someone else had gotten it (one of many), and I realized I had given it to them. So, I was spreading my virus unknowingly that entire time. If there was a spike in cases this past summer, it was because of me. But since I love doing nothing, this wasn’t the most inconvenient of events — for me at least, disregarding the person I gave it to (sorry). It’s not like I have a job or practice I had to miss.

As I said, I understand that pondering over the worst parts of the past is an awful mindset. I would never want to be friends with me if I were someone else reading this. But the more I talk about the things that went wrong in 2022, the more I laugh at the irony. This is because I remember that in 2022, I got into college, started the best year of K-12 school that I have been dreaming about my entire life, became a legal adult, spent a week by myself in Manhattan, and became closer with my friends than I ever have. The irony of expressing everything negative about a year with so many good things is the best way to emphasize how uniquely great it was.