Every spring, Yale holds its commencement ceremonies and the members of the senior class become members of the working class.
Some seniors, however, choose to forgo the security of a “real” job — virtually ensured by graduating from one of the world’s most prestigious institutions — and forge ahead into fields populated by as many high school dropouts as Ivy League graduates: the world of art. While some may believe that these seniors are essentially holding their degrees over a flame, the seniors themselves are brave, confident, and of course, a bit terrified.
Rich Silverstein ’02, plans to pursue a career in theater, living the “starving artist cliche.” He plans on kicking things off with a four-week run of “A Murder of Crows” this summer in New York City, a show that he and fellow theater studies major Ryan Iverson ’02 first performed here at Yale last October.
But after those four weeks, Silverstein has no certain plans. Silverstein anticipates constant auditioning in addition to the usual tasks of securing an apartment and a flexible day job. Ultimately, Silverstein said that he would love to act in musicals, although he is not entirely opposed to the idea of an occasional directing job.
“I am in my element onstage — that’s when I’m at my best. There is nothing like the energy exchange you get with an audience,” Silverstein said. “I directed two shows here and I’d like to do more, but I think of directing as much more stressful than acting, so I think I’ll stick to the latter while I’m trying to settle into the New York life.”
Silverstein said that there are a lot of disadvantages to a theater career, mainly because there is a great deal of rejection and no constant salary. As much as he is trying to prepare himself for such a lifestyle, Silverstein remains uncertain of what he and artists like himself can do to prepare.
Silverstein’s close friends, however, remain confident about his future.
“He’s going to win a gazillion Tony Awards and have his own sitcom,” said Michael Schulman ’03, the self-proclaimed number-one Silverstein fan.
Molly Goldstein ’02 will be joining Silverstein in New York City this fall. After spending the summer in Rochester, N.Y. to take classes in film editing, Goldstein plans to move to New York City in September, regardless of whether or not she has a job lined up. Goldstein said that she would ideally want to apprentice as an assistant editor for a short time and then be the head editor on feature films or documentaries. She is also considering going to film school at some point.
Goldstein’s choice to pursue a film career is not grounded in a great deal of experience. Instead, the decision stems from pure instinct and a conviction that a film career would make her happy.
“I made the decision because I’ve made a few little films using my computer and my video camera, and my favorite part of the process was by far the editing,” Goldstein said. “Editing video is one of the few activities that I can sit down and do and have no idea how much time has gone by. I love the challenge of creating a storyline as well as the minutiae of a smooth transition from shot to shot.”
While Goldstein has loved her experience at Yale and wouldn’t change it a bit, she said that she is a little worried about her potential job skills. In spite of receiving a wonderful education, Goldstein feels less than prepared for life after college and knows few skills that would interest employers.
Ben Crotty ’02 already has at least one employer interested in him. Nonetheless, he is open-minded about his future plans and location. Currently, Crotty has a one-way ticket to Seattle after graduation, where that employer has agreed to show Crotty’s photographs. He also hopes to write reviews of gallery shows for a local paper.
New York City, however, still beckons. Crotty might join Goldstein and Silverstein in the Big Apple, living with his friends from Cooper Union, an East Village-area college dedicated to art and science. As a possible alternative to New York, Crotty said that he is also considering a move to Los Angeles, a possible location for his work in a graduate program.
Crotty said that he does have the usual concerns about and fears of poverty and obscurity, but more than anything else, he is excited.
“I’m looking forward to being out of school and just making work for myself,” Crotty said. “I’m not sure of much at all, but I get frustrated if I’m not making something. I know that it’s important for me to keep producing art, but I’m pretty open as to how that will be manifested.”
While their futures are currently uncertain, Silverstein, Goldstein and Crotty have high hopes. Silverstein may capture a silver-plated Tony, and Goldstein could take home a gold, shiny Oscar. Who knows — Crotty could have such a groundbreaking impact that the art community establishes the “Benjamins,” going along with the trend of first names appearing as award titles. All the Class of 2002 can do is hope everything turns out for the best for these three individuals, along with their fellow seniors who hope to enter the art world. Someday, perhaps, the Class of ’02 will be able to say they knew Silverstein, Goldstein and Crotty way back when.