Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be "an actweth!"  Or, as we so-called adults call it, an actress.  I was passionate about it.  I LIVED and BREATHED my ART!!!!!! It was such a NOBLE CALLING!!!!
Until I got sick of it.
Let me say this; I admire good, dedicated actors.  I like people who put their focus on the material they're working on, rather than how good they want to look on camera or on stage. I LOVE going to a live show and watching people fully inhabit the lives of their characters.  I know how much work it takes, and then how much you have to trust that work and let it go once the curtain goes up.
A mistake I often made as a young actress (and it is a very common one) was to work hard during the performance.  There was a definite lack of trust in myself, and I thought that if I wasn't emotionally spent after a show, I'd failed.  Then I worked with some folks who knew a whole lot more than I did, and, while they gave it their all onstage, they left it there.  After the show they were happy, hungry, and wanting to go somewhere and socialize.  Tired, yes, a bit, but also full of adrenaline.  From them I learned that it wasn't actually all about ME, but about the story we were telling and, oh yeah, those people sitting out there in the dark who'd paid money to watch us.
Those were the days when I REALLY enjoyed performing.  Then I moved to L.A. and it all changed.  Because, as I've written before, it wasn't about the audience, or the story, it was about how much money you could make, what kind of car you drove, how hot you were, and how rich and/or young your significant other was. They actively looked down on those of us who cared about the craft.  The prevailing attitude was, and remains, thus: do theater only so you can get a good agent, who will then get you on a series.  From there, you get a better agent who will get you into films.  Do films for the Rest Of Your Life.  Because to go "back" to TV or heaven forbid, theater is to go BACKWARDS!!!!!!
And then there's the theater scene, which these days is all about having film stars trod the boards, thereby guaranteeing a decent-sized audience every night and a return on the investment.  See, for example, this years' Tony Awards; featured actress in a play, Scarlet Johansen; best actor in a play, Denzel Washington; best actress in a musical, Catherine Zeta-Jones.  Don't get me wrong, all these folks are talented and worthy and Denzel and CZJ both started in the theater. (And Scarlet gave a lovely tribute to her castmate Liev Schrieber, who is awesome.)  But were they really the best, or was this the Tony committee trying to get more folks to come to New York and see a Broadway show?  What about all the "unknown" folks who have sweated and starved for years, who haven't made it to the "A-List," and whose only crime is that they are incredibly talented? Don't they deserve some kind of recognition?  yes I know; being on Broadway IS a huge recognition, and the dream of every stage actor ever. But the Tonys used to recognize these folks, not just the celebrities.
And this is pretty far off my original topic, which was originally about work.  Not my work in articular, but work in general.  Jobs.  Employment.  Y'know, that thing that is pretty hard to find these days.
See, Hubby just got a full-time job at the VA clinic in San Francisco!!!!!  It's pretty much entry-level stuff, basic administration, but it's full-time, probationary for a year.  If he decides to stay (and they decide to keep him), he will be an official federal employee with...federal benefits!!!!!!! He's also on a salary, rather than hourly, and he has fixed hours M-F, with weekends and holidays off.  It's pretty sweet!
When he applied for the job I was worried that he'd hate it.  But it FINALLY occurred to me that maybe our jobs don't have to be filled with drama.  After so many years of auditions, uncertainty, almost-but-not-quite-getting the role, and then the hard but TEMPORARY work that followed once we DID get a role, it's kinda nice to have something sturdy, stable, and sane.To go to a job every day and not have to bring it home.  To have work life and home life be separate entities. To, maybe, have the same job for years, rather than a few months at most.
Plus, it's nice to know that we'll have steady income.  To maybe NOT worry about the future quite as much.  It's not a huge salary, but it is, well, a salary!
I'm hoping I can get a bit more stability in my own job.  That when I finish my next round of teacher training I can work in a studio as well as the gym.  I'd like to teach knowing I have a job from month t month, and not worry so much about whether my classes are going to be canceled.  If I can be in a studio and make myself indispensible, there'll be more of that stability we so desperately need at this point in our lives.  We've both had good runs as actors.  We did good work, met great people, and had a terrific time.  Now we're in our 40's with 2 kids.  It's time to grow up and buckle down.
And you know what?  It's kind of a relief!

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