It is really difficult to explain what I do. There are some gorgeous production photos floating around out there - I have collected many. Under the stage lights, under a layer of makeup, in a costume someone fitted to me, I pretend to be another person. That's what “acting" looks like. That's what kids think it is when you tell them you're an actor. That's what students are afraid of when you ask them to participate in theater. That's the assumption my nephew had about theater until he tried it. That's what my dad still thinks I do. That's what strangers think when I tell them that I work in the theater - I immediately get the question “So, New York or LA?" The idea of being an actor is all about receiving attention, perfecting a craft, and performing. I haven't quite figured out how to explain the work that I do. And I'm not even talking about memorizing lines, researching roles, reading plays, going to rehearsal, keeping myself moderately in-shape, learning sword choreography, putting on makeup backstage, tracking my props, or any of the other skills and time it takes to be an actor. I'm talking about everything else. If I try to tell people that I'm a theater maker, or (the phrase I went with for a while) I get put in rooms to make the plays go... they look at me confused and assume I'm hyper modest or hyper pretentious.
I've also collected a series of other photos, and I think these are more revealing about the real theater work than any production photo can tell you. Most of them are of the back of my head. Because most of the time, even when I'm acting, it is not. about. me.
Around the table are a bunch of Shakespeare nerds - some of them who have played with our company before, some of them have joined us just for this show, including our title character (far left.) I'm there just to listen. I'm there to support, and give text notes, and watch our stage manager put post-it reminders on every sound cue. I'm there to fill in when an actor is absent, make stage blood for the photo shoot, come up with ideas - 90% of which will not be included in the final product. I'm there to make the play go.
I CAN EXPLAIN...
Actually... eh, nevermind. I gotta get back to work.