8.17.2009

a big ridiculous circle that hopefully you figure out quickly.

When you start out as an actor, generally, you get an office job while you do projects on your own and wait for acting to turn into a full time job.

This is what my cousin Ben did. Then he got what he wanted and acting turned into a full time job.

Then he quit that full time acting job to have an office job again, and do shows on his own. He told me this tonight. I was impressed. He's 29 and I think that's young to figure that out.

I no longer expect or want to make my living doing theater. Not ACTING, theater. The work that pays is often lame (farces and rehashed musicals are safe bets that will return investors' money), always short-lived (anything longer than a 5-month contract is almost unheard of), and never pays you enough to live responsibly* on (see footnote).

So you do bad art that takes all your time and energy for no money.
Tempting, I know.

I'll officially only do it for fun from now on. Thank goodness for commercial work and occasional fancy parties where I can dress in napkins.

*I define living responsibly as being able to meet a housing payment and pay all reasonable utilities, pay for your independent health insurance, afford a modest annual vacation, and saving for retirement. I don't know any full-time theater people who could meet that, much less adding something exorbitant to the equation like "car payment" or "child care."

4 comments:

DinaBear said...

I completely understand where you are coming from, and I totally support your decision. :)

Urraca said...

I'm not sure what to think about this post. Is this a permanent decision? (What decision ever is, really? I had a boyfriend once whom I broke up with on a yearly basis. At the time, each breakup felt like a permanent decision. Inserting florid LOL here.)

I feel like I want to respond in more detail to your post. Lemme think about this one. Maybe I need to re-state also my 15-year plan for my own publishing career. It strays close to some of your imperatives here, like fucking healthcare. More on this soon.

joyofem said...

Yes. I think that you need to do with your life whatever will make you not want to vomit in your mouth every day. I also think, though, that you're not capable of making bad art if you tried.

Jeremy said...

I just finished reading Alex Cox's book "X Films," about the 10 films he directed. He's a political guy, tries to make popular political movies that aspire to art. What will strike you in the book is that he is always putting his salary back into the film's budget. So... he's making feature films, and he's not getting it done. Instead, he's directing TV in Japan and stuff.

Meanwhile, I'm over here making slot machines. In theory (shaky, shaky theory) I have all my other hours free to do the projects I wish. But mostly, I don't.

My advice is to stay on those personal projects. They are easy to set aside or delay, but they're the oxygen for everything else. Maybe work out a way to 'pay yourself' for them. When I haven't done anything for myself in a while, I start to feel pretty miserable about most everything.

I miss theater. There! I said it!