Worth an extra click.

Should I give up on having a life in the theater?
I've let go of my acting career, but it won't let go of me.
By Cary Tennis

Dear Cary,

I never explicitly grew up with the need to become an actress -- it was never a life's goal -- but nevertheless I graduated with a degree in theater (I had fallen in love with Shakespeare) and went on to audition for, be accepted in, and finish an MFA professional actor training program out West. I moved to New York like aspiring actors are supposed to do, got tired of temp jobs and being lonely and broke and living off of friends and not having an agent. I left after only five months to take advantage of another job opportunity in another state -- in a different field 180 degrees away from theater.

So here's what prompted me to hit the Send button: I went to a play last night, something I rarely do nowadays because it's a surefire way to unleash old demons. The theater is incredibly seductive -- or at least my memories of it are. Now I've been thinking nonstop about the creative life versus the present-day office life that I hate, and the breezy ways of actors versus the uptight lawyers in their suits who occupy my building. I'm in my mid-30s now, and for the last two years I've been working as the assistant to a very needy octogenarian real estate entrepreneur (and I have little patience with needy men). This is the last place I expected to be.
I know I'm romanticizing a lot of this (!), because I never did honestly see myself living the New York Actor's life in the first place, but I spent so much time -- a good 10 years -- in some kind of world of theater, be it either educational or, through my graduate school MFA program, professional, that I can't help feeling confused about where I think I want to belong. I know I don't feel like myself in an office.

... ... ... keep reading at Salon.com (it's worth it, at least I thought so) ... ... ...



Basil said...

Ach! This will never get easier! Theatre is like The Mafia of the Soul (just made that up). You can never truly get out alive.
Not that you'd want to, though...

Jake said...

I have to say that most people I know, myself included, have struggled in this way. The problem is the need to feel like one has found their special niche. We want to be doing it with all their might and the world should be noticing and rewarding their efforts. Ain't happenin' for 99% of the world. That's fine, too. So you work a day job or two or 20 while you do interesting things in the arts on the side. So you have trouble drumming up enough sales from your graphics work, set design, or latest cd to quit your day job. Oh well. Let me quote Heinlein:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, conn a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve an equation, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

PJ said...

Do you just quote HEINLEIN??!! So sexy; be still my heart ... I think you are now my new boyfriend. I love Heinlein.

But re: the article. I'm with you both. In an interesting and challenging but ultimately rewarding journey ... to negotiate the line between personal sacrifice for your art and artistic sacrifice for your day-to-day life.

The line for me keeps shifting, and I finally feel okay about that. Like why should I feel trapped into pursuing to the letter the dream I thought I wanted when I was 20? That dream didn't come true and I'm not 20 anymore. I have new and different dreams now, and they aren't cop-outs or scaled back versions of the old dreams either.

smooch to you both