copyright © 2005 by Adam Hahn

Personal Statement
by Adam Hahn


Fourteen months ago, I left my comfortable yet joyless life as a graduate student of engineering to seek an exciting career in the professional theatre.

Imagine my disappointment when I learned that my education had not prepared me for such a career. If anyone tells you that a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering is suitable training for the professional stage, you probably have dark skin or no penis: engineering recruiters will say anything to enroll a student with dark skin or no penis.

Similar lies are told to those who want to become doctors: "The best way to get into medical school is with a degree in biomedical engineering." This is like saying, "Trying to get downtown? Don't take the subway, just join the marathon a bunch of us are about to run."

Within four semesters, students who have fallen for this lie learn that a degree in, say, psychology or botany would have involved less studying, more binge drinking, and a GPA acceptable to a medical school without taking Thermodynamics I a second time.

Victims of this lie become heartbroken dark-skinned non-doctors without penes.

Yes, "penes" is the plural form of "penis". You have to believe me: I have an engineering degree, and I got an A in Thermo the first time through.

Determined to keep my own fair-skinned penis-having non-doctor heart unbroken, and resolute not to be sidetracked by any more of your questions on genital grammar, I am seeking education from a college of liberal arts and sciences. I am applying to a department with the word "theatre" in the name. Just think of the theatre-related concepts implied by the word "theatre" but not implied by the words "mechanical and industrial engineering".

There are many.

I've written two plays, I have a resume, and I found three people who know all about the implications of the word "theatre" willing to write recommendation letters.

The last barrier to my application was the creation of "a short personal statement outlining the applicant's objectives in applying to the program and after completing the M.F.A. degree."

I've written similar essays, successful works that secured admission and funding everywhere I cared to go as an engineering student. I always hated writing them, because I knew I was arranging facts to tell my audience exactly what it wanted to hear.

It occurs to me that this is quite different what I want to accomplish as a playwright.

I don't know what you want to hear, so I made several attempts at simple honesty. This strategy dead-ended in a personal statement that read, "If you think the plays I've written are good, let me into your workshop. If you don't, stop fucking with me."

I was about to seal my application envelope when I realized that this was significantly shorter than the one to two pages that had been requested.

I gave up on writing a traditional essay and instead decided to submit a brief and vulgar serio-comic monologue, which I will perform this Friday night at No Shame Theatre.

(In my first draft, the next line was, "I'm calling this monologue 'Personal Statement'", but if you couldn't figure out on your own that the essay is the monologue and vice versa, that means you are dumb.)

I hope the performance goes well. Whether it does or not, I shall learn something from the experience which will allow me to better understand the human condition or communicate what understanding I have. Those are exactly my objectives in the Playwrights Workshop and after completing the M.F.A. degree.

I don't expect to see you in the audience, anonymous playwriting application reader person, but the show starts at eleven in Theatre B. Admission is one dollar. I'll be the penis-having fair-skinned bearded person who looks like he needs a hug.

And I know you're wondering: the plural of "vagina" is "vaginae".


I performed this in my Quiznos uniform, taking time to regard my baseball cap before I began speaking.

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