Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Dream Deferred?

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit it, but I used to kind of look down on my theatre friends who"gave up" on their theatrical dreams to pursue other employment.  I used to silently judge them and think how sad it was that they stopped acting or costuming or directing or what-have-you to go into banking or bar-tending or teaching or to be a housewife or whatever.

Some of these friends really could have gone far in their theatrical careers, I feel, and I always thought it unfortunate that those talents were not being shared they way I felt they should have been.  Some probably made the right choice to pursue other careers.  And some still are active in nonprofessional theatrical pursuits, which still made me a little sad because I feel they could have had successful professional careers.

I have had a very successful acting career, and acting has always been a huge part of my life.  However, I feel like some of my regular employment is drying up.  With our selling Mom's house, I can no longer live there when I'm in Utah.  One of the companies for which I most consistently work will not be able to afford to house me; the other will not likely house me either (not to mention that there is a new artistic director, and I feel I am being "phased out" somewhat).

I've also missed Jonah terribly while I've been away from him, and the longer I've been home with him, the more I just want to stay home.

And frankly, at my age (I'm only 42 (well, I will be in 3 days), but I'm not getting any younger), I'm just tired of the instability of my career; I'm tired of constantly hustling for a job; musicals are getting harder to do because my body and voice are not in the shape they once were; and union jobs seem to be getting harder to find.

I've recently been hired as a glorified usher for a theater that is part of a rather large corporation.  While it is an ushering job, there is a bit of acting and improvisation involved as i will be playing a sort of character that gets the audience in the mood for the show. It won't be the same as being on stage, but I'm actually looking forward to it.

I had an orientation meeting on Thursday to learn about company policy and their mission statement and take a tour of the property, etc.  I have to say, I'm actually quite excited.  The job starts out as an on call position, but has the potential to turn into a permanent position by the summer, hopefully.

When I hear about all the benefits that come with the job once it becomes a full-time position, it kinds of excites me.  Some of these benefits I admittedly do already receive because I belong to Actors' Equity, but it will be nice to have a more permanent, stable job that provides similar benefits.  Some of the benefits include really good health insurance, enrollment in a 401(k), life insurance, a paid day off to get a doctor's check up, pension, free counseling if needed, fitness classes, discounts at stores and eating places on the property, educational assistance, one free meal per shift, paid time off and vacation pay, among others.

I like the attitude and philosophies of this particular company (at least in theory; I'll wait until I've actually worked for them for a while to make a final judgment), and thus far, everyone has been extremely welcoming and warm.  It's been a great first impression.

Even though, it's an on-call job, I'm currently going through orientation and training, both of which will be paid for, so that will be nice.  And while maybe it's not the acting job I dream of, I do think it will be a job I enjoy doing, and I'm looking forward to it and am even seriously considering taking a hiatus from full-time acting to perhaps do this job for a while.  I long for something stable, secure, and close to home, and maybe this job will provide that.

I never thought I'd want to take a break from full-time acting, but that's the way I'm feeling right now.  I've had a great run, and if my acting career were to stop right now, I'd feel enormously blessed and fortunate to have done all I've done as an actor.  I don't anticipate that I'm giving up acting forever.  And who knows if I will find this new job satisfying.  Perhaps a year from now I will yearn to be on stage again.  But for now, I think I'm looking forward to this.

Part of me, of course, thinks, "Am I giving up on my dreams?"  I don't really feel like I am.  I just feel like I'm trying to be smart and responsible.  I'm tired of the constant grind of looking for work and losing work.  I'm getting too old for it.

What's interesting is that Jonah is kind of in an opposite place.  After nearly ten years of working as a dresser of actors, Jonah longs to do something more creative and artistic; something that is more in line with what he's always longed to do.  It will be interesting to see where our careers go from here.

1 comment:

LCannon said...

Roland had looked into acting at one time - ended up a salesman and so still does "act" for a living. But the real estate feast or famine (mostly famine was greatly killing us. So now we have a steady income - well, sort of - more secure than before.

I still think book publishers and authors are missing out by not snagging you up for audiobooks. I think you would do especially well at children's - and everytime I've gotten an audiobook (with just a few exceptions) I wished it was your voice that was telling the story.