After the Bubble bursts: Aram Monisoff

Nicole Capozziello

Personally, after the Lawrence bubble burst it was quickly replaced by a much larger bubble, grad school. After Lawrence ended I applied to as many programs as I could for master of fine arts degrees in acting and I’m currently getting my master’s at DePaul in Chicago.
Moving to Chicago reminded me that no matter how small my studio apartment may seem, it is in fact not a dorm room. And although I am in grad school it is not really “school.” You quickly learn that there is no food service building waiting for you to drag yourself in on those cold days, nor are there house kitchens filled with tofu casseroles that you can heat up at 3 a.m. I learned two things very quickly: I needed to learn how to cook immediately and school is hardcore when there are only nine people in the entire class.
Chicago is a great city for students right after school. Not only is it cheaper than a lot of cities in America, but it’s also got a great theater scene. I’ve learned to find those weirdo avant-garde shows in every corner of Chicago as well as cheap $5 improv shows. Word of advice: If you ever come to Chicago on a Wednesday night go see T.J. and Dave at I.O. I wish I would get paid to say that.
Switching to DePaul University has also been a major shift for me because it is so radically different from Lawrence. It has over 25,000 students and is the largest Catholic University in America. Not that I feel that at the theater school but it definitely is a change of pace. One thing I’ve noticed that Lawrence has provided me is an insane body of general “liberal arts” knowledge. Compared to a lot of schools, Lawrence really is ahead in that respect, which can only help if you’re looking at becoming an actor.
Grad school in theater is quite a change from my theater days at Lawrence. A typical day consists of two hours of yoga, followed by voice work where we talk about “feelings,” which is usually followed by sobbing. This is then followed by Meisner or method acting where we often scream at each other. After class there have been numerous trips to Kelly’s Bar in order to mend friendships.
I’m pursuing a degree that usually causes people to scoff. Also, this isn’t the same as medical school, which I have shamed my mother by not attending; I won’t be making six figures when I leave DePaul. However, it’s totally worth it.
When you move on from Lawrence try to move somewhere with some alumni that you are close to; it definitely helps make the transition easier. I want to give a shout-out to Asher Perlman, who requested one, for being an awesome Chicago friend.
Currently, I’m in a short play about World War II written and directed by a classmate. DePaul is very keen on actors-as-entrepreneurs, so we frequently write and direct our own material. Next term I’ll be directing a reading of a two-act play that I’ve written using fellow classmates.
Moving to a city and living by yourself is the greatest thing anyone can do to “grow up.” You quickly learn to balance paying bills, doing homework, working, and grocery shopping, all the while depending on mass transit; which in Chicago, in winter, can be pretty bad. I think the best thing to do after graduation is to move to any city and just scrape by. You’ll meet more people than you would going home and living in your old room and you’ll also discover what drives you.