The Real World, Theater Edition: The First Two Weeks

Barbara Jwanouskos kicks off her re-branded column!

This is the true story. True story!

Of a theater artist trying to make it happen in the real world.

Find out what happens when theater stops being polite and starts being real.


This is the rebranding of “Higher Education”. I’m out of school now and have had time to cry over the amount of money I spent on this endeavor. Now it’s time for the road to meet the rubber and to implement what I’ve learned because I’m back in the Bay Area and ready to start making some theater!

But first I need a job. Because student loans.

I’m going to get real for a second and talk about money.

I worked hard for a number of years before deciding to go back to school. I was lucky in that the program I got into covered half of the tuition and it was only two years. However, I still needed to take out loans. It was weird not having an income. Then, I got that check!


Since I’d been so accustomed to working for everything and seeing that bank account looking reasonable every two weeks, it certainly felt good when I initially cashed that loan check but man did that go away pretty fast. I watched as money seemed to just literally fly out of my hands. Even in city that has a much lower cost of living than the Bay Area, I wasn’t expecting the heating and air conditioning costs to keep my California-kissed baby skin comfortable.

When the semester came to a close, I thought to myself, “okay, be extra good about saving money, the job market is different from when you graduated.” Friends, I thought I was being frugal, but I’m shocked at the lack of safety net I have left. For the first time, I’m actually pretty scared that regardless of all this training, education, and experience, it still may be quite a while before I land a job.

And if no job, how do I make art? How do I get around? How do I eat?


Well, uh… this is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I don’t know what I expected. Perhaps that investing in something I cared about would actually allow me enough money for basic needs? Hmmm. Guess not.

Anyway, no need to be too bitter, except… I guess… this.

The job pressure is very real. I keep going through alternatives in my head like some sort of warped logic problem. If I don’t hear back from these places I applied to, I’ll start looking into temp and contract work. If that doesn’t work, I’ll start thinking about the retail stores nearby and see if anyone’s hiring. If they don’t have a job by summer’s end, then…

Then… when will I ever be able to focus on writing new plays and creating theater?


Welcome to the Real World!