Every year, for the past 10 years, I have dropped literally everything to work a week-long theatre conference for the University/Resident Theatre Association (URTA). This started back in 2009, before I formally lived in Chicago, when I was sleeping on the couch of the friend who got me this job, while I simultaneously looked for apartments and real (that is to say: full-time) employment. The first two years of URTA, I wrote embarrassing posts in my Livejournal (because Livejournal was still a thing) about how urban and exciting the URTA people were, and how I could never be that effortless and cool.
Over the years, I graduated from working the four days of acting auditions to stage managing… basically the entire conference. Eight days, four days of tech interviews, four of acting auditions. The days are long, sometimes grueling. I clocked seventy hours over the eight days this year, not counting the two burlesque performances I gave, the three hours of class I taught, or the sculpture class I sat for. (I worked 90 total hours over the last two weeks, because I’m insane.)
Because it was the first job I ever did in Chicago, I tend to measure time by URTA, instead of by New Years. What I’ve done in the last year, what I gained, what I lost, what I gave away, what I’ve accomplished. The first two years of URTA happened in a hallway at Roosevelt University. I knitted at the registration table between check-in times and was too afraid to talk to anyone. I really rooted for these grad-school candidates because I was them. I was also barely 21, just out of undergrad. It didn’t matter if they were good or not, I wanted to be their cheerleader, because the URTA recruiters were fucking terrifying. More on that later.
Year three happened at the University Center for DePaul, Roosevelt, and Columbia. This was the first year I could see the auditions because the room they were held in had a frosted glass door. I simultaneously worked for Provision that year and remember logging into the UC computers to answer emails.
Year 4 was the first year at the Westin. I was box office managing at Provision at that time, so Tim made me work something like 8-noon and then I’d have to run downtown to work one to five or some ridiculous time like that. It was during this year that Tim fired Kenneth (or was that year 5?) and I threatened to quit until Joanna calmed me down and took me to drink in the hotel bar. I had to go to Vaudezilla rehearsal that night, wasted on gin and tonics.
I don’t remember much from years 5 and 6. I was still afraid of the recruiters, but I also knew that I wasn’t quite like the candidates anymore. I had graduated long enough before them that we never would have been in school together. I was probably lonely.
Year 7, Kenneth was living in San Diego. I was enjoying being fake-single. By this time, I was already working tech as well as acting. I met Damon from the Academy of Art University, and… whoever the recruiter from Portland Actors Conservatory used to be, and we drank in the hotel bar. I felt like I had made friends and couldn’t wait to do it again next year.
Year 8, Academy of Art University didn’t send a recruiter to URTA, and the gal from Portland Actors Conservatory had been replaced. Back to square one.
Year 9, the only year I didn’t do acting, because I was in class at Columbia and couldn’t get the days off. Remind me why the hell I went back to school?
This year. I finally got to go back to the hotel bar, this time with the recruiters from Portland, Pig Iron, Circle in the Square, and Guildford school of acting. We were all women. It was really glorious. I can’t wait to do it again next year. (Something tells me I’ve said that before…)
This year, to the point of this blog, I also challenged myself to dress up every day. Not just dress up, but to wear something vintage or vintage-inspired every single day. Partly because I wanted to accurately represent myself. Partly because, as the person keeping time, I need to be the most highly visible person in the room and insane colors, corsets, and victory rolls will do that for you.
Jacket: 1960’s cropped blazer with mink collar- Carousel Vintage
Skirt: Emerald Green swing skirt- Unique Vintage
Stockings: Ribbed M Stockings- Sock Dreams
Boots: Phoebe Boots- Euro Soft
Hat: Simplicity 9644
Jumpsuit: Gigi Jumpsuit- Miss Candyfloss
Dress: Simplicity 4105
Blazer: BCX- Similar
Blouse: Vintage- La Loupe Vintage (I think!)
Pants: Editor Pants- Express
Dress: Voodoo Vixen Ella tea dress- Unique Vintage
Shoes: Vintage 1930’s green velvet pumps- Hollyland Vintage
Top: Um? It is a mystery!
Trousers: Voodoo Vixen Laura Suspender trousers- Unique Vintage
Hat: The return of Simplicity 9644
Dress: Vintage 1970’s shamrock dress- Dead Girls Vintage
Tights: Spanx (seriously)
Shoes: The return of the Euro Soft Phoebe boot
Jumpsuit: The return of the Miss Candyfloss Gigi Jumpsuit
Boots: Miracles Ascension Boot- John Fluevog
*whew*! Thanks for joining me on my journey through URTA. It might have been a busy week, but we finished it out in style!