In 2007, after my first real role on stage, I looked at Clare and said, “It’s good to have goals, right? I’ve not been good with follow-through, but I really want this thing. I want to be an actor, whatever that means in terms of my daily life.”
After reading affirmation in her, I continued, “Then, this is my goal: I want to be working professionally in the theatre in five years. I’ll do it. I know I can. I feel like that’s realistic.”
As my confidence waned, I added, “You know, professional just means you’re paid, so…”
I began to be paid occasionally for acting within three years, never more than a small stipend. In 2013, almost exactly six years since deciding on this course, I hit my highest point, taking in larger and larger amounts for fight direction, and earning a union salary for Les Miserables at Skylight. I had lived up to the promise I made myself. The problem with goals, though, is sometimes you reach them, and then what?
This year hints at being another peak year for me. Last year, I successfully completed my first teacher certification for stage combat, and I plan to pin another on my chest this year. The work I have done will set me on the path, at least, to making a reasonable living in theatre, though mostly behind the scenes.
When my mentor, DC, offered me a chance to work at the Rep in Arkansas on the Scottish Play, I could barely contain my excitement. I said yes, without hesitation. Later, I was surprised to learn that this did not sit well with Marcee. I asked the Rep director, via DC, for time to decide, fighting for the extended time away as beneficial to my career, but my wife saw this as not only deciding without her on something that might have great impact on our relationship, but also as choosing career over family; neither of these arguments is incorrect, regardless of my ability to throw doubt onto them.
In my deliberation on the subject, I came to the conclusion — undeniable, I think — that we would only argue without resolution, and the decision ultimately rested with me. I created a compromise. I would not audition for a role in the show, and would only spend the rehearsal period in Arkansas, leaving the production’s run in the hands of a fight captain. I am learning, by degrees, how compromise can cost.
Marcee remained unsatisfied. With my two three-work workshop stays, and adding another three weeks on, and confirming without another discussion, she felt low priority and dissociated from my life.
The director, having given me time he might not normally have spared, chose to go with a fight director who could stay and be a part of the cast.
I don’t know what to make of it. Obviously, it resolves the issue of too much time apart, but it leaves me feeling like I have accidentally discarded an opportunity to start a broader career path, and possibly tarnished my mentor’s reputation with that company. Rather than leaving things pleasant on all sides, my hesitation made everything worse.
I am bold in my choices, but seemingly only when there’s nothing on the line. Does this make me considerate or cowardly? Are they one in the same? I don’t want children for the reason that I don’t want to be responsible for the happiness and health of another person. I’m learning what it means to be committed to something like marriage, or pets, or theatre, and I still fear it. It’s cliché, but it’s also real. I don’t fear the cage so much as I fear watching someone give something up for me, or needing me more than I need them.
The good news is my August is free. The bad news is… I think I would have felt more free if I had been booked.