Professor, students reevaluate burnout after Doja Cat quits music

By Kylie Corral, Assistant buzz Editor

After a series of tweets between Doja Cat and her fans following a conflict stemming from a canceled concert, the artist announced on social media that she has quit music.

Doja Cat’s resignation from the entertainment business puts the topic of burnout in the music industry into the spotlight. It also raises the question of how burnout affects students in the performing arts at the University.

Professor Lisa Dixon teaches BFA and MFA lessons at the University, and she’s a director and producer for the Department of Theatre. She received her undergraduate degree in anthropology.

Dixon said burnout can occur when working in production, academia, factories, fast food jobs and professional acting. To her, burnout is not specific to a certain career.

“I think there is an assumption that theatre artists experience this more than people in other professions, but I do not think so. It can be difficult to find work, as in any profession, but when you do, it is almost always a really rewarding experience,” Dixon said.

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To avoid burnout and tiredness in any profession, Dixon said students should sleep and eat well. She added that sleep does wonders for one’s energy, creativity and vitality no matter what subject they’re studying.

“I do not want to compound misinformation by playing into the stereotype that all theatre folks are walking zombies because they barely eat or sleep and ‘the show must go on,’ no matter the consequences. It is definitely hard work and often long hours, but students choose to do it because they love it,” Dixon said.

Lauren Ashley Hayes is a transfer student from Rockford, Illinois, who is now a junior at the University pursuing a degree in acting. She received her AA degree from Rock Valley College.

She has acted at the Illinois Theatre and is currently working on a project for the Armory Free Theatre.

Hayes said that she first encountered theatre as an audience member in high school, where she would watch her cousins perform on stage. Inspired by this, she decided to audition, landing her first part at 14 years old, she said. She then took her first acting class in community college.

Hayes said she has also experienced burnout when it comes to acting.

“My first experience of burnout was that it came with the job, and it was my job to push through and keep going. At one point that summer, I was so exhausted, having been ensemble in one show for a couple weeks and crewed for two more for a month, my body was beginning to meet a sort of breaking point,” she said.

Even though she was exhilarated, Hayes said that she injured her leg when pushing herself to dance, admitting that it has never been quite the same since.

She said that this experience has taught her to listen to her body and guide herself away from the “push through” mentality with the instruction of her professors.

“Burnout was my way of saying and showing to others ‘Look, I care so much that I am willing to work myself into the ground to do what I love’ for fear of lack of opportunity, fearing I would look lazy or uncaring, and thinking it would make me better,” Hayes said.

She said that it was fear of missing opportunities and wanting to be relied on that caused her to burn out. She now realizes that self-care and acting go hand in hand.

“For me as an actor, I am a storyteller. If I work myself into the ground, I can’t truly honor the character or the story, so I can’t do my job,” she said.

Hayes said people must learn to communicate their needs as an actor and give themselves permission to have time to themselves. She advises students to listen and take care of their bodies, adding that therapy is helpful because talking to a stranger about feelings can be very relieving.

“I’d like to ask whoever is reading this to give themselves forgiveness, care and compassion as you would give the ones you love,” Hayes said.

Haven Crawley, a senior acting major graduating in May, has also experienced burnout in theatre.

Crawley said that a lot of time outside of class is dedicated to rehearsals. They said that rehearsals can run anywhere from four to six hours. Their last technical rehearsals ran about eight hours.

Being a full-time student while auditioning for parts and preparing and rehearsals can get hectic, Crawley said.

“Especially for our seniors, we have a showcase coming up in like two weeks where we’re going to audition for agents. We’re working on that and on voice reels or voiceover work that we might potentially do after we graduate. So it can pile on real fast,” they said.

Crawley also said that many acting majors take part in additional work in local groups outside of school.

They said students should take breaks and make sure to take that time for resting, not working.

“I have become really adamantly dedicated to using my time off, actually taking my breaks and not using the time that is supposed to be my time to dedicate to my work,” Crawley said.

Crawley said that it is good for anyone to learn that it is OK to say no to what they cannot do and things they do not want to do as well. Joy in existence should be held on to, too, they said.

“It’s so much easier to find joy in work if you’ve also found joy in not working,” Crawley said.


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