By Brittany Worthington, Marketing Student Assistant
Life after graduating from The University of Texas is full of unexpected obstacles; from finding a job to paying rent to watching your friends scatter across the country to raising enough money to fund your off-Broadway production. Well, that last one is a bit more specific to Sean Tecson, UT graduate (BA ‘15) and former TPA student employee.
Poor Boys' Chorus, the play Tecson directed and co-produced, finished a three-day run on August 20 as part of the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival in New York City. Written by Brian Kettler, also a UT alumni (MFA Playwriting ‘15), Tecson discovered the play when he was asked to workshop it his junior year. One UT black box production and a New York City reading later, the play was amongst twenty shows selected as part of the first-ever Broadway Bound Theatre Festival designed to promote new and emerging playwrights. While it took a year to bring the idea to the stage, the actual timeframe of putting up the show after being selected was a bit of a whirlwind.
They applied in March of 2017, were notified of their selection in April, and held auditions in late May and early June before beginning rehearsal for a mid-August performance. “It was a short process and really crazy,” said Tecson, who went on to describe the experience as “very challenging, very truncated, but very rewarding.”
For his first time directing and producing a show in New York City, Tecson said he had to learn to translate between himself and his actors. “I worked with a lot of actors at UT, so everyone speaks the same process language. But in New York, everyone comes from different backgrounds: this person learned in this method, this person likes getting notes this way. I had to navigate different languages to speak with different actors. I had to figure out: how do we get them to all work together to create the same world? As the director it was important for me to communicate in the way that was most effective for each artist.”
Despite the time constraints and the added work of raising funds for the production, Tecson continued to praise his team of actors, producers, and other crew members for making the experience so positive and one he’d happily commit to again, “It gave me a confidence and a drive to do the next [project that comes along].”
But before Tecson brought his directorial vision to a New York CIty stage, he was a student at UT, where he got involved with Texas Performing Arts. “As a theater major, I was looking for a way to get involved. I really enjoyed the community [at TPA] and how energized everyone was about the arts even if they weren’t arts majors,” he said.
Tecson began working as the Costume Shop student assistant before moving to the Student Engagement department where he helped with the student TPA Package (now known as the Bass Pass, a discount ticket program for UT students). “I started with getting my hands wet at TPA, getting familiar with how offices work, and having a lot of stories to share at the time has been really helpful. Managing databases, managing communications, helping to plan special events for subscribers, all of which I continue to do or help support in my new jobs. It was something I didn’t plan but all skills I’m so grateful to have.”
September marked Tecson’s two-year anniversary since moving to New York City and his plate is full: he is currently the director of development at West of 10th, a small theater company focused on supporting the work of millennial artists. He is also finishing up his time at the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York as part of a year-long A.R.T./New York Creative Opportunity Fellowship where he is learning more about fundraising—everything from managing databases to hosting galas to institutional fundraising and grant writing. After that, who knows? Tecson wants to continue working in the nonprofit sector, as part of an arts organization or in a position that will allow him the time to pursue his own personal projects and help support the work of others.
“If you’re looking for a career in the arts, it’s very challenging,” said Tecson. “Every person I know who’s worked in the arts here has had quite the journey. The most important thing is to stay open. Working in the arts is a very close-knit, supportive community. It’s not always saying “yes” to everything but being open to the opportunities that are presented to you.”
Whether it be in Austin or in New York City, Tecson has relied on the arts community as his touchstone. “The arts are such a great tool for bringing people together and creating a community,” he said. “There are people there that are going to welcome you with open arms. If you want to be a part of it, no one is going to turn you away. As hard as it’s been up here, it’s also been very welcoming. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t imagine not being a Longhorn.”