Sunday, June 6, 2010

Life in the Theater

Many years ago I worked in various aspects of the New York theater world -- both on stage and off. I was very young at the time and never seriously considered working in theater as a career (it's a really hard way to make a living unless you "breakthrough" or "make it" and that was never going to happen for me). So I went on to have a square life and career and have never regretted it.

That said, I fondly recall what life in the theater was like -- daily life. And this short article from today's Times reminds me of what it was like and inspired a wave of nostalgia in me: you work at night and your days are free (except Wednesdays and Saturdays when there are matinees). During the day, you can catch-up on your sleep, do your errands, and enjoy the day. Then, as dusk settles over the city, you go to the theater to your small temporary family of actors and crew. Even though most of the shows don't run that long (even people who work on hit shows only usually work on them for a year at time), it does feel like a temporary family, contra mundum. Working on a show is a unique experience that will never be replicated.

You can almost understand why so many movie actors say that their first love is the theater.

The most fun you have is when the show is actually going on. There's a tension in the air, everybody feels it -- that thrill of doing the performance and the relief that comes when it's finally over and been a success. In most shows, not every actor appears on stage every minute so there's nothing more fun than shooting the breeze with other actors and crew members backstage. You're all in this together and you become like a "band of brothers" -- with women of course. While it can be frightening and horribly embarassing when a show goes wrong, the joy that comes from when it goes right can't be described (I won't say it's better than sex but, well, in some ways it is).

Of course, and this is the reason I didn't pursue a theater career, it's very hard even find a job in the theater. Most shows come and go very quickly and the rejection that can come from getting fired or getting bad reviews is absolutely brutal. But when life in the theater is good ... it's very, very good.

I don't know if any theater people read Mr NYC but, if they do, I'm sure they know what I'm talking about and I would love to hear what their lives in the theater are like.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep it civil, intelligent, and expletive-free. Otherwise, opine away.