A couple of weeks ago on Facebook I saw an actress friend and a Chicago treasure, Karen Janes, pose a question. She essentially asked, how do you refill your creative well when it needs filling? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. It was encouraging in a way. If such a brilliant and bright person as Karen feels this way sometimes, maybe it validates my current state.
I’ve spent the last 7 years on back-to-back projects. I’ve worked in almost every aspect of theater. I’ve produced theater as the artistic director of a small theater company, directed, assistant-directed, been the casting director, been the casting assistant, location scouted, arranged music, done PR and social media, stage managed, been the props manager, been the costume designer, acted in large musical ensembles, been a supporting lead, been leading actress, and put together 2 one-woman shows. I’ve been on some of the largest stages in the city and some of the smallest.
So what’s my point? Besides showing you my resume? I feel like my well is empty. I used to be so inspired by every aspect of theater. I was so hungry for it. When I was 19, I went on my own to London for 3 weeks. When I visited the National Theatre I literally asked them if they needed a janitor. That’s how badly I wanted to be immersed in that atmosphere. I would’ve done it too. Sometimes I wish I had. Ah youth.
After some dream projects over the last couple of years were done, I found myself enjoying myself less and less. I felt less and less passionate. I’m known for my unbridled passion, sometimes to my detriment. Where did it go? I look at some of my fierce successful female peers whom I greatly admire, like Karen and Heidi Kettenring and Christine Sherrill, and I wonder do they deal with this? I suppose I could ask them since I know them all and they’re lovely, but I’m shy about it. Instead I’ll put it on a blog for the world to see. Hah! But seriously, how do they do it? They all have families too.
Ding. Ding. Ding. That’s what’s going on. I have been so focused on my career and being successful in my art, that I forgot to have a life. Being in the theater is all I’ve thought about since I saw Les Miserables on Broadway on my 14th birthday. Even my 6 years in the Navy were spent with me reading every book I could get my hands on about acting technique and extolling the virtues of theater to any sailor who could stand it for more than 5 minutes. I’ve been so tunnel-visioned for so long that I’ve burned myself completely out. I didn’t think it was possible, but it happened. I’m only human after all.
So what am I working on right now? I’m working on me. I’m taking a break. I’m trying to become a runner. I started this blog. I’m playing on my IPad. I’m cooking and eating healthy food. I’m organizing my house. I’m visiting family. I’m reading books. I’m playing in the rain. I’m driving by the lake. I’m back in voice lessons. I’m hanging out with friends one-on-one, but I’m also spending a lot of time alone and getting to know myself better. I’m still auditioning for the projects that light a fire in me, but nothing else. I’m refilling the well, because damn…it needed to be refilled. And I’m happier than I’ve been in years.
Today I felt that panicky “I don’t have a gig lined up” feeling for the first time in a while. I started questioning everything and freaking out that maybe I’m just being lazy or giving up because it’s hard. But no. It’s been 21 years of my brain occupied by one thing, I’m allowed to think about something else and not feel guilty about it or that my career is over. Right?
So hopefully next time someone asks me the “whatareyouworkingonrightnow” question and I say “nothing” or “I’m taking a break” and they look at me like I’m crazy or with extreme pity, I can hand out cards with a link to this blog. OOOOOOOR I can look them straight in the eye and say, “I’m working on my LIFE punk and I am blissfully happy!” Or that. Girl needs a cocktail at lunch today. 🙂