Well, team – we did it! We made it to mid semester break. (Technically.)

You see, while many of my peers at O’Rorke have headed home for the holidays – and I’m reluctant to really call this a “holiday” because everyone still has so much to do – I have remained in these hallowed halls, constantly in and out, and about as busy as I’ve ever been. It is strange to come home to such a desolate space, especially when I usually come into contact with at least twenty people from the door to O’Rorke to the door to my room, but I’ve almost grown accustomed to the sheer lack of people around – to the point it’s weird that they’ve started to trickle back in post-Easter.

Those of us who were around last weekend walked from O’Rorke to the top of Mt. Eden – and guess who was back! Summit! A friend snapped this cinema-worthy picture of our iconic reunion.

At the beginning of the break, those of us who are here the whole time created a group chat called “The Lost Boys” (I’ve been christened the Wendy of the collective) and made a promise that we’d spend any free time we had in the common room with each other so we weren’t confined to our rooms for two weeks. We were good for the first couple of days, and we do still sit together for about an hour every meal time (I’m there much less now that Dance Like Everybody’s Watching has gone into production week/season) – and it’s like a proper family dinner – but apart from that you’d be hard pressed to cross paths with anyone, anywhere. The group chat has been about it for interaction, and when it’s not being saturated with memes, it’s “who wants food?”. (Social calendars are pumping, lads.)

As clean and as empty as our common room has ever been.

Now, despite the relatively chill beginning to the break – which kicked off prematurely due to Cyclone Cook’s uni cancellations (11am closure, just in time for me to finish up my 10-11am EURO 100 test) – the tables have turned in the week since. (For me, at least.) (Dramatically.)

Spot a couple of familiar faces in the Here & Now lineup! (Picture courtesy of the @aucklandtheatreco Instagram!)

I’ve tried to put off talking about things on my blog that aren’t immediately helpful to the majority of students considering the University of Auckland, but I know just how many artsy teenagers there are out there – and I know that I certainly would’ve wanted to read more about the particulars of what theatre stuff was available post-high school – so here you go! We’re forging on! (Feels a little bit self-indulgent, but we’re just going to ignore that.)

BOYS and MTT have got the actual stage for the festival, so I haven’t been so much managing a stage as managing a BUILDING. But shout out to my tech crew – a great team with great memes. (Another group chat…)

I’ve spent the past week neck-deep in every nook and cranny of the ASB Waterfront Theatre, preparing for Auckland Theatre Company’s Here & Now Festival. I’ve kind of mentioned it in every blog post because I get a bit obsessive when I’m passionate about things, but hear me out – my move to Auckland was all about grabbing opportunities, and this show is proof that I’ve acted on that. (Well, not acted, so much as Assistant Directed and Stage Managed – slapping my knee at the hilarity of that tedious pun – forgive me.) I’ve met so many people whose lives are devoted to the industry I love; I’ve gained a whole new skill set because I’d never really been behind the scenes of a project like this before; and I’ve had the glitz and glamour of this far-away concept of theatre as a profession sanded down to a crisp reality: it’s just as much about paperwork and hazard reports and problem-solving before you’ve even reached the venue as it is about the performers onstage. (I’d actually recommend stepping behind the scenes to anyone really invested in the performing arts – there’s so much that gets taken for granted and so many easy ways to make life less stressful for all involved if! you! just! implement it!)

Not only has this experience proven to me that you have to chase what you want and clutch onto it for dear life, it’s also allowed me to grow my social circle outside of the university/halls environment and helped me maintain a level-headed sense of moderation. University life can’t consume me because I’ve also got Dance Like Everybody’s Watching to think about it, and Dance Like Everybody’s Watching can’t consume me because I’ve got classes going on. I’m one of those people who is best when they’re busy, so having my fingers in lots of pies actually makes them all taste better. (Analogies running rampant.)

I’m finishing this blog post a couple of hours before I’m due at the theatre for the festival’s closing day: the last hurrah of two months of hard work, which began with me in the car up and down from Tauranga for every rehearsal and has ended with me well-adjusted to life in the centre of Auckland. How times change. It’ll be a bit strange not to see everybody possibly ever again, but we’re going bowling tonight after pack out, so fingers crossed I’m having one of my 100+ days as opposed to a 63. Either way, it’ll be a lot of fun. A fitting end to a fitting run. And after that? Well, I guess we’ll see. Onwards and upwards!