Each spring more than 70 schools with professional MFA and/or BFA programs in acting, performance and musical theatre produce showcases in theatres throughout the Big Apple. With some schools offering both BFA and MFA degrees, more than 80 showcases are presented over the months of March, April and early May. Each showcase seeks to introduce a graduating class of performers to casting directors, agents and other professionals in the nonprofit and commercial theatre, and in related industries from cruise line productions and corporate industrials to advertising, film and television. Showcases allow training programs to provide invaluable assistance to graduates transitioning into an always challenging job market.Some quick math sends a chill up my spine. Let's say that each showcase averages 15 grads -- that's 1200 actors trying to get a foot in the door in NYC. I know that these programs think they are doing their students a service, and no doubt the students think so too, but I just find this horrifying.
First, why are there that many BFA and MFA programs in this country?
But aside from that particular elephant, what rips my heart out is the thought of so much wasted talent pouring into a theatre scene already bursting at the seams, where actors who actually have their Equity cards experience 85% unemployment. How many of these talented young adults will spend five-ten-fifteen years searching valiantly for chances to practice their art, only to come limping home battered and disillusioned.
From an ecological standpoint, it is so wasteful; from a human standpoint, it is almost criminal. There's got to be a better way. Why keep flooding the system?