The audition that broke my heart. I saw the play. Still breaks my heart.
Funny thing, theatre, this art. It's really the only job where you get to see, over and over and over again, the person who got the job instead of you. In a most glorious, public, internally humbling and humiliating kind of way. What a mind fuck. And as a woman, the older you get, those job opportunities become harder and harder to find. Which makes the job search feel even more desperate.
Desperate. Desperation. Oh, what a wonderful feeling. The body odor that goes with it is great too.
So how do you keep going? What do you do? How do you get to 39, with no "major successes" to speak of (completely relative and subjective) outside of that one Jeff Best Ensemble Nom and keep going? What is the key?
Love of the art, right?
I've said it before, if I've said it a million times:
Is all theatre good? No. You know that, I know that, everyone knows that. And that's not what I said. I've seen a lot of "bad" theatre over the years. A. LOT. But also, there are shows I've gone to and told a friend afterwards, "This is the reason lay people hate theatre." I've been around this business long enough to know that what some of what we "Theatre People" think is "good," and what the "Normal Citizen" thinks is "good" can vastly be two different things. And vice-versa. Beauty is in the eye of the...Disney on Broadway. (*cough*)
But this isn't the point. When you get to the bare bones of it, theatre isn't really a see-what-I-can-do useless liberal spectacle. It's largely, I would argue, about the community it creates. As I've said in previous posts, theatre has been my home for many years, literally and figuratively. I could live in a cardboard box and still find a home in a theatre. It's a big part of what keeps me in it.
To which I say DUH. I could have told you that. Really, anyone who has sat in a theatre through a captivating performance could tell you that. There is just something about sitting in a room with your fellow humans, watching humans experience real emotions in real time, that goes to the heart of why I continue to make art. It's visceral.
I want to be part of this art that I love. And I want to evolve as an artist. Part of that evolution is learning to take artistic opportunities as they present themselves, and avoiding the negatives of "no" and "I can't." I've always been good at saying yes to everything when the risks are low. When I'm "comfortable." But it's time to stop limiting myself, and set big goals. It's hard for me, but I'm trying to, for once in my life, start to be that person. Take risks. The big goals. Well, calculated ones, anyway. Let's not get crazy ahead of ourselves.
So I'm going to direct a show. Small budget. New theatre. Non-Equity. Milwaukee. The Constructivists.
It's a project that developed through discussions and meetings with friends and fellow artists. The Constructivists intend to be a Non-Equity Professional Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To begin with, anyway. The goal being to bring back the visceral into the theatre. Be a part of getting the heartbeats to beat as one. And break as one. The way the good ole Greeks intended.
I might fail. Gloriously. I mean, I largely feel like I don't know what the hell I'm doing anyway.
Which is not to say I'm completely clueless. I've directed small projects here and there, this is just the first time I'm helming a professional production in a non-assistant sort of way. I've never claimed to be anything other than a late bloomer. Trepidatious me.
And people are like, why MILWAUKEE? It's SO FAR AWAY. Well, it's not. I'm there every other weekend for family. I have friends there. When I was a kid, we used to drive down from Manitowoc and I would think OH MY GOD THIS PLACE IS SO HUUUUUGE. And I live on the FAR Northwest side of Chicago, for goddsake. When I go out for a walk, I hit at least three suburbs. Hell, Chicago people think anything past the Expressway is Wisconsin anyway.
But the crux of the matter is, I came across an exciting opportunity and I took it. Evolve or die, really. And I want to experience another facet of the theatre experience. No, I'm not giving up acting. I'm not going to stop auditioning or any of that. Long term I'd like to finally be fully committed to being an advocate and champion of the live theatre experience. Full time.
She says at thirty-nine and a quarter.
We need more women to do that anyway, don't we?