You’d think that by now I would have trained myself to resist the sweet bait of promises. You’d think I’d have realized that nothing is permanent, including happiness, including certainty.
Last summer, I resisted the honey they poured in my ear. I tried to let it drip out as it came, delicious and sweet, but not something to hold on to too tightly. Of course, as honey always does, it sticks.
In this business, promises are frauds. Nothing lasts. A perfect moment, an upswing, a success, will pass even quicker than it came. Humans like to make sense of things. People in normal industries are used to this. You intern. Then you assist. Then you office manage, then you’re a junior partner, then you’re a CEO. Or whatever.
That is not the world I live in. There isn’t any "fairness" to it. The best, most honest of intentions are thwarted. No one lies on purpose. No one says, "there will be a reading in March," or "we’re going to cast Connie Britton," or "there’s interest in a transfer" or "that was beautiful to watch" or "you’re undoubtedly going to have a career" and NOT actually believe that they’re telling the truth.
Nothing in this business works with they way things are "supposed" to go. You don’t climb the ladder. You don’t work with the same people in the same office on the same schedule on the same things day in and day out. Your job doesn’t conflict with ANOTHER job because you just have ONE job. You don’t turn down the opportunity to audition with a casting director who loves you for a lead role in a hilarious short that’s filming in a gorgeous beach town in August with all the people who love you and tell you how special and talented you are because you have 7pm performances of a play with the company you both helped found in 2010 and were weirdly fired from in 2012 in a basement theatre in the East Village.
And yet, that’s what happens. And it’s not the first time.
It’s hard, when shit like this happens, to feel like its worth it. My heart breaks on a weekly basis. But when I’m in rehearsal, with knee pads on, loping around like the Zanni from commedia dell’arte, I understand. When I’m set up in front of a camera and I dig my hands in my pockets and gaze into the tiny eye of the lens, I understand.
It seems, based on my posts this summer, that its been particularly trying to be an actor at the moment for me. I guess that’s accurate. It was so EASY last summer– but now I’m back in reality and its not quite as simple.
1. I’m in NYC, land of (too many) opportunities, not trapped in Jersey and safe from the cattle call.
2. I’m doing a show that may or may not be any good, and that people may or may not see and may or may not enjoy.
3. I have to talk myself down off the ledge. I don’t have two 40 year old moms to tell me I, good and special and important.
This life is exhausting in its complexity. Being in rehearsal from 11-3 feels so good, but at 3 I have to go to an audition, or go home and work on my relationship, make dinner, go to the psychiatrist, THINK.
I helped host this panel with the Drama Desk Awards in June, which brought together a number or folks making their Broadway debuts totals about, we’ll, "Making My Broadway Debut." One young (my age… Oof) actress, who’s currently in VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE said something along the lines of: I love going to work. But even though I’m actually doing my JOB (performing in a play 8 shows a week), I feel like I’m not. It feels like my job is to find the next project. I’m not comfortable just coming to the theatre every night and doing the show. The SEARCH for work feels like my job almost more than the job itself.
And even when I was at my most comfortable in a show, I agree– you’re always looking for the next. Everything ends. Even a Tony-Award winning play. Even happiness. Even a promise.
But I also have to believe that even the frustration, the stagnation, the sadness, will end, too. It’s just a matter of time.
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