Finding the Right Dayjobs as a Theatre Artist

August 6, 2019 Leave a comment

(This post was written as a podcast article for the wonderful Broad-WHAT? podcast put together by Ryan Nunez and Theo Budd. You can find them at https://broadwhatpodcast.com/ and this particular podcast at https://broadwhatpodcast.com/2019/06/11/june-blog-month-episode-2/ )

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Hello Broadwhatniks!

I’m Andrew Wade, and I’m here to talk to you about life with dayjobs as a theatre artist. This isn’t advice persay, because goodness knows I don’t have a perfectly arranged life, but I thought I’d share a few ways I’ve seen people somehow both manage paying their rent and working in theatre, and what I’ve found works for me.

First, if you’re a Vancouver artist who makes their whole living doing what you love… bravo! You have my respect. Whether you’re someone who managed to slowly increase the percentage of your income earned by theatre work, piece by piece, until it made up the whole of your income, or one of those brave souls who quit everything and leapt face first into the profession to great success… I’m impressed.

I know of one fringe artist who works his butt off all summer long. He travels from fringe festival to fringe festival, using those May to September months to earn his income for the entire year. It seems like half of the time, he didn’t even win the draw to be in the particular fringe festival, but he hounds the organizers for open spots, and when some company drops out at the last minute, as often happens, he seizes the opportunity, flyers like a madman, and draws crowds. Now, this is Fringe Festival money, not investment banker money, so to survive off his earnings he then lives the rest of his year in somewhere with cheap living expenses, like an island in the pacific ocean. Earn quick, live cheap.

That’s a sort of balance. But for most of us, we need day jobs. Personally, I’ve always been enamoured by the idea of working like someone out in the oil fields, going hard for four months of the year, and then having enough money to take the rest of the year off to make art, act in shows, write. But then I’d have to work in the oil fields, and with these delicate hands? Pass. But if you can find high paying seasonal work, amazing.

There are also plenty of people in our community who choose to work the full time joe job that lets them act in one solid production a year, and if that’s your life, all the more power to you!

But for those of you like myself who want to hustle all year ‘round, going to auditions and seeking out roles, maybe booking the odd stage management or directing gig, you’re going to want to look at finding flexible work where you get to opt in to all of your working hours rather than constantly needing to get shifts covered. Many theatre artists do the 9am-5pm, full time job, and then straight to rehearsals and performances every evening, but in my view, those fifteen hour days just aren’t sustainable.

When looking for a flexible day job that will let you take time off to work that theatre contract, there are a couple of categories. First, there’s the job that you can do ANYWHERE, AT ANY TIME. My own part-time role as Executive Director for the Richmond Arts Coalition is like that. 98% of the job is spent online, updating websites and databases, sending off emails and scouring the web for arts events to compile into even more emails… all stuff I can do at 2am or whenever it’ll fit into my schedule. Other theatre artists I know do transcription work – writing up the words spoken in videos for a fee. These are jobs that are guaranteed not to be double-booked with the moment you’re about to go on as Lady Macbeth.

Second, there are the day jobs with opt-in scheduling. These are jobs that send out or post a schedule each month and say ‘what days can you work?’ and then they fill their shifts accordingly. The key to these jobs is to be valuable but expendable. You want them to want you to work as much as possible, but to not NEED you to be there. For me, I have wonderful employers at SFU Woodwards and Gateway Theatre who work this way for my Front of House Manager jobs, and my event shifts at Science World and for a company unfortunately acronymed as BBW work similarly. They’re delighted to have me, but the roof won’t fall in if I’m not there, because I’m one of a fleet of workers they have to fill those shifts. The shift opportunities themselves are quite irregular and they couldn’t have full time workers if they wanted to as the shifts only happen when there is a show or an event!, so they can’t expect their workers not to have other things going on in their life.

I’m told that serving jobs often pretend to be like this, but are often a trap, leading to angry employers demanding their employees be there for the busy Saturday when they’re supposed to be at rehearsal. I’ve steered clear of those jobs.

The downside to this kind of work is that it tends not to pay a whole lot, admittedly. That’s a sacrifice I make for knowing I can build a survivable, steady income whenever I don’t have a theatre gig to take up my time.

You may have noticed that most of my own day jobs are arts related. That is no coincidence! I’ve surrounded my work life with bosses who love the arts and want me to succeed as an artist, and that support is invaluable. There have been a lot of company rules bent in my direction to help me along my path because my bosses believe in the arts, and they believe in me.

To emphasize that point, I just came off of a dinner theatre contract that kept me in Alberta for five months, and might have gone as long as eight months. I was real nervous about it – I accepted the gig in late November and left December 31st. Not a whole lot of notice. I was sure I was going to lose some of my Vancouver safety net, but you know what? To a person, my bosses were all delighted for me. They told me not to worry about it, and that they’d look forward to offering me shifts when I got back into town. And now I’ve accepted a second dinner theatre contract that’ll take me back to the prairies from mid July until either January or April, and they’re still happy for me.

So that’s my advice – if you want to be theatre-flexible all year round, find jobs with bosses who love the theatre where you can be valuable but expendable, so that you can disappear for that two month contract when you book it. My own financial anxiety finds the idea of dropping all day jobs to pursue my art full time to be far too intimidating (and frankly, I’m not sure I’ve got the talent to achieve a lofty goal like that in Vancouver), so I keep dayjobs like these, with my schedule flexible but my rent payments steady.

It works for me. Thanks for listening.

Categories: acting, living, money

The Dandelion

April 17, 2019 Leave a comment

!

The Dandelion

!

I broke her heart as a dandelion.
She saw me as a flower
when I wondered if I were a weed.
We grew stubborn roots
that kept us together through two breakups.
Though my petals leaned away,
something deeper kept its grip,
brought me back to the soil of us,
to the school field and the ocean air,

And then it didn’t.

I was a dandelion,
and I could feel the change in the seasons,
my petals turning to seeds,
with the lightness and lift that comes from them,
and I couldn’t remain a bright flower for her;
I couldn’t be her wine.
It was in my nature;
I longed for a steady wind
to cast me about in five hundred directions,
to grow again, apart from that place
and from her.

So I left.
A weed and a flower,
a flower and a weed,
I launched into the breeze,
billowing about through winters
and springs,
summers and falls,
at first without aim,
at the whims of the wind,
hither and thither,
learning my shape and my size,
my weedness and my florality,
the pest and the prize,
until now,
at last, I gaze out of the gust
and hope maybe for a garden
with soil and a soul
in which to root.


Photo by Greg Hume

My 2018 Fringe By The Numbers

March 9, 2019 2 comments

 

Every year (2013) (2014) (2015) (2016) (2017) I have put out a blog post with financial breakdowns of my fringe festival experiences. I only spent time in Salmon Arm and Vancouver last year, but as I sit second on the waitlist for Vancouver Fringe this year, I figure I shouldn’t break the streak! So here’s how we did:

 

“I just want you to know, your show will stick with me forever. Thank you.” – a woman who recognized us at a diner, a couple of hours after a Salmon Arm performance

 

For 2018, I applied for a number of festivals with Hullaboo and The End of Everything. As is statistically probable, my lottery luck was not with me: Winnipeg Fringe (nope), Calgary Fringe for the first time instead of applying for Saskatoon (they take place at the same time) (nope), Victoria Fringe (nope), Nanaimo Fringe (nope), CAFF Lottery (nope), Edmonton Fringe (nope), and Vancouver Fringe (nope, but got in as a Bring Your Own Venue). I also submitted for Salmon Arm’s weekend-long ‘Theatre On The Edge’, which isn’t a Fringe as they select their entrants, but is otherwise similar to one.

Note that I have NEVER gotten into Edmonton or Winnipeg… I think that by now, including CAFF lotteries, I must be a startling 0 for 16 in lottery draws to get to those cities.

So, the tally for 2018? 0 for 7, mitigated by finding a BYOV for Vancouver Fringe and finding a juried festival that would take us.

Keep in mind that while I produced the show, all profits were to be shared between myself and the lovely Katie Purych (with our Stage Manager Bonnie Duff receiving a fee for Salmon Arm).

 

EXPENSES:

Failed Fringe Application Fees:   (application fees don’t come cheap!)
Winnipeg: -25.00$
Calgary: -35.00$
Victoria: -30.00$
Nanaimo: -25.00$
CAFF Lottery: -25.00$
Edmonton: Full fee of -761.25$, with 724.50$ returned six months later = -36.75$ (plus whatever interest I would have earned on that money in the interim)
Total: -176.75$

Edmonton Fringe continues to have a very awkward and irksome application fee system.

 

Salmon Arm Theatre On The Edge Expenses:
Festival fee: -225.00$
Gas money: -80.00$
Stage Manager fee: -100.00$ (Bonnie Duff adamantly refused to accept payment, was happy for the job training and adventure, demanded I put the fee towards paying those failed application fees.)
Total Salmon Arm Expenses: -305.00$

 

Vancouver Fringe Expenses:
Application fee: -50.00$
BYOV fee: -450.00$
Carousel Theatre Venue Fees: -895.00$
Postcards (1000): -74.05$
Carousel Theatre Taxes: -44.75$
Posters (25): -16.40$
Facebook ad: -20.00$
Tape for posters: -13.62$
Videographer: -60.00$
Total Vancouver Fringe Expenses: -1563.82$

 

Fortunately, a lot of the Hullaboo expenses – such as puppet creation and costuming – were covered in last year’s over 1600.00$ loss on putting up the show in Saskatoon.

Expenses not included:
– Food eaten / groceries bought
– Lost income from not working dayjobs

 

And now let’s look at what we earned!

INCOME:

Salmon Ticket sales (after festival took their percentage cut): +845.52$
Vancouver Fringe Ticket sales: +1564.00$

 

Which means that our overall profits were:

Salmon Arm: +540.52$ (with 220.26$ going to myself, 220.26$ to Katie Purych, and 100.00$ as per Bonnie Duff’s request, going toward paying failed festival fees)

Vancouver Fringe: +0.18$

0.18$.

 

Seriously. We made eighteen cents in Vancouver.

 

+1564.00$ in sales, with -1563.82$ in expenses.

 

We should be running a non-profit.

 

Katie respectfully refused to accept her nine cents of profit and told me to put it toward the next production. 

 

For those who are interested, here is how our Vancouver ticket sales spread out from performance to performance:
Exchange Vouchers (comps we gave out to a group that sends low-income families to shows): 5+0+0+5+5+0+0+0 = 15 (0.00$)
Super At Door / Superpass (comps): 1+2+2+1+1+6+2+1 = 16 (0.00$)
Rush Pass (comps for volunteers and performers): 0+7+2+0+14+8+1+5 = 37 (0.00$)
Half-Price Ticket (second show only) (11$): 12 (72.00$)
Frequent Fringer 10 or 30 Pack (9$): 1+0+0+2+2+1+1+3 = 10 (90.00$)
Frequent Fringer 4 Pack (10$): 0+0+3+0+3+0+1+0 = 7 (70.00$)
Regular Tickets (12$): 6+0+12+9+28+12+11+33 = 111 (1332.00$)

 

My Kindergarten Teacher!

And for a day by day breakdown, our audience sizes were:
13 – 21 – 19 – 17 – 53 – 28 – 16 – 42 .

Those 53 and 42 size audiences were huge confidence boosters. One of them also included BOTH my kindergarten teacher AND my high school drama teacher, who both loved the show. My kindergarten teacher said I was one of the most gifted kids she ever taught. My drama teacher overheard this and said something along the lines of, ‘Well, I wouldn’t go THAT far, but I’m glad to see you’re doing well’. 😛


Overall, we made +463.95$ this summer (with 220.26$ going to Katie Purych), which compares thusly to prior years:

2017: -296.62$
2016: -58.21$
2015: +897.63$ (due to fee for writing TITUS)
2014: +83.51$
2013: -1671.16$

All the gratitude I have in my heart goes to Katie and Bonnie for adventuring this past summer with me and giving Hullaboo and The End of Everything some life!

Hopefully he will emerge out from under the bed again sometime!

High Fidelity

So,

I just finished reading High Fidelity, the book (obviously) – read the last close-to-two-hundred pages in a single go. That’s one thing I’ve really enjoyed about taking this contract – I’ve become a reading person again, and that’s one thing I’ve really missed from childhood – being the kind of person who can just sit and read a book, submerged between its pages, for hours on end, because I need to find out how it goes, because I’ve emotionally and intellectually connected to it.

I’m also a bit of an empathic person in that I tend to adopt the voice of what I’m reading or watching for a little while. Which is why I’m writing this out now, and probably why I don’t watch scary slasher flicks. (Also, I just typed the word ‘flick’, which is British, so apparently High Fidelity has turned me slightly British.)

So it’s sort of a book about a jerk. I don’t entirely relate to that (and please don’t argue the opposite). I’ve been real stupid in life, but rarely with a vindictive sense of malice to it. Not since grade school, anyway, when I would plot to fill peoples’ desks with dirt because I thought they were mean to me. Nah, most of the time, if I’m thinking someone deserves negative stuff in their life, that person is me. But I’ve an affirmational poster on my wall (yes, I’m that guy) that says ‘I am a Good Man‘ (sharpie underlined), and I believe it, most of the time. My friend Jacqui added a ‘And we ❤ you!’ to it that I quite appreciate.

What the book is more about, though, is the triumvirate of the excitement of new relationships, dealing with break-ups, and figuring out what to do in the middle of a relationship. It’s about how much mental space and energy and OHMYGOD these things take up inside a person’s soul. It ends with pretty much an ode to marriage and commitment, because, heck, all of the above just take so much EFFORT, going through those first few steps of a relationship over and over and over again, and long term relationships take effort too, but it’s a different kind of effort; it isn’t the same, stuck kind of effort repeating itself over and over again.

My week has been emotionally a bit rough, probably in part due to this book. It’s all about fixating on past relationships, and, well, it’s not hard to see why that is an issue if you’ve read the second paragraph up there about empathy. And I don’t know if people with regular nine-to-five, five-days-a-week office dayjobs feel like every day is the same, but performing a show is quite LITERALLY SAYING THE EXACT SAME WORDS AND REPEATING THE EXACT SAME ACTIONS EVERY DAY.

(I actually love it, and every audience has a slightly different vibe, and let’s be honest, I usually slightly fumble a couple of dance moves or reverse a line or sing a verse with a slightly different intent, so it’s never exactly the same, but the metaphor is too precise to ignore, so stick with me.)

ANYWAY, as I was saying, I needed to get to the end of the book, so I read it with an intensity – I was trying to divine some sort of wisdom from these pages to help me out, or at least to feel a sense of closure – moreso than I feel from my own life right now. I don’t want to be Rob (the main character) from the beginning of the book. (sidenote: No one should want to be the person at the beginning of the book – they’re the person who hasn’t yet learned what they need to learn to be a better person.) He’s a mid-thirties man who still acts like a teenager because his life got stuck somewhere along the way, and he blames everyone else for it happening. And I, by contrast, am an early-thirties man who is excited to read a book from cover to cover because the very act of doing so makes him feel like a pre-teen, who isn’t sure if this theatre tour he’s on is a life derailment, a career advancement, or a period of being stuck in relational limbo. Probably all three. And I mostly blame myself for how my life is. But I could be more of Rob at the end of the book. Sure, it’s a bit of a cop-out that someone else fixes most of his exterior life, but inside himself, he makes some realizations and he feels the heartdeep of what makes commitment and long-term relationships so meaningful.

Let’s be honest. I’m a 32-year-old man who had only been in a relationship with someone for longer than nine months before my last one, once, and even with the age difference, that really probably was my first time with that heartdeep, that continuity of companionship and all that comes with it, and now you’re feeling awkward reading this because these are the kinds of thing that twenty-year-old men accidentally blubber about when they’ve had too much to drink, or the kinds of things said by pathetic old men still pining over old flames, or maybe those are both images I’m projecting over myself, but I’m going to say the obvious anyway, which is that I want that heartdeep again.

I’m also probably not emotionally prepared to have it again – not that that stops some people – and anyway, I’m on tour now, hopping from Calgary to the Cayman Islands (to visit a happy, committed couple with a kid) to Edmonton and then maybe to Winnipeg and I have NEVER been good at long term planning, always been the person to embrace the ephemerality of life and that’s what I’m living in for the next three to six months whether I want to or not, and I’m going to do my darndest to enjoy it, goshdarnit, to find ways to make peoples’ lives exciting due to my being temporarily, ephemerally in them, as I continue to crawl back percentage points of my heart (yes I think of it in percentages – it’s not a null sum game – the heart can grow! – but percentages all the same), but when I finish leading this webisode, short-story, elseworlds edition comic book time in my life, and have more of my heartdeep to offer, I’d like to find a deep, long novel with someone to live in.

Anyway, this has been my book report on High Fidelity. Cheers.

 

The Preference

November 18, 2018 Leave a comment

The Preference:

There was a me, then,

When I was with her,
A me who was better than the me who came before.
I preferred the me who was with her,
the man who knew he was loved,
who didn’t have that sense of desperation, of longing,
of will this conversation lead to a romance I need a romance I think I need a romance,
that the previous me had,
a me who was less selfish,
who knew fully what it meant to go all in on loving someone,
who knew his good qualities because she told me all about them,
because I could see them in the sparkle
in her eyes
when we shared our lives.

And then we didn’t.
And now we shouldn’t.
So here I am.
Here we go.
Without a choice.

We are always becoming,
no matter how firm we try to grip to what is now,
or to wave away the waves,
to reject the flowing tide,
we are ever-becoming
who we are
next,
the next me,

And my optimistic, foolish wish
is I want to prefer to be that person too.

(Photo from 2012)

Categories: living, writing

How I’m Doing

November 11, 2018 Leave a comment

 

 

People have been asking how I’m feeling.
Here’s where I’m at.

I feel like time is moving strangely, impossibly slow,
as though yesterday were a week ago,
three days ago, a month,
and last month, as far back as my time in Victoria.
Last week’s happy experiences
and hard conversations
feel like they took place a year ago, happened to someone else who existed back then.
Individual events and chats and moments feel so small,

whereas the lingering feelings,
the semi-constant emotional states
that continue
from one minute
to the next,
these feel neverending,
the ocean compared to the waves,
part of who I’ve been for all of recent memory.

Earlier tonight I worked a shift at the Drake concert at Rogers Arena.
When I arrived, they put me in the elevator,
to sit in the elevator for seven hours,
to press the buttons to go up and down
and down and up
and up and down
and down and up
and up and down,
with the occasional interesting ten second conversation
peppered along seven hours of that lurching
stomach feeling
of being stuck
in an elevator.

Categories: living, writing

Hullaboo and The End of Everything

August 5, 2018 Leave a comment

I didn’t want to do it all alone anymore.

After some twenty or so festivals of performing my own one-person-shows with stage managers acquired along the way, I felt it was time to collaborate. So when I decided to put together Hullaboo and The End of Everything, I looked to see where I could include other people along the journey – people with skills and talents beyond my own. My dear friend Fairlith Harvey designed Hullaboo’s delightful costume. My fringe friend Shelby Lyn Lowe built me a giant puppet monster. And I wrote the show as a two-hander.

Hullaboo, the imaginary friend, and Mikaila the Magnificent, the girl who needed him.

Hullaboo - Claws 1000pxI wrote the script, designed the postcards and poster, bought the plane tickets, filled out the forms, and learned the main part, true, but at its core, the project wasn’t just mine anymore — it was ours. I like that feeling.

There were trials and tribulations in getting this show up on its feet. The script itself is my third try to turn Hullaboo into a show. And two and a bit weeks out from heading to Saskatoon Fringe last summer, the other actor (playing Mikaila) got an amazing theatre contract opportunity and had to drop out.

One desperate plea to facebook later… and Katie Purych agreed to step into the role. A role with a mere two weeks before we needed to be on flights bound for Saskatoon. A role that required taking two weeks off of work on very short notice. A profit-share role for a show that was likely to see very little profit.

And yet she jumped right in. And thanks to all the wonderful people around me, the show really works. It’s powerful. It’s fierce. It’s touching. It’s a Pixar movie on the stage, according to one review.

We took the show to the Theatre On The Edge festival in Salmon Arm last month, and in a restaurant, we were stopped by an audience member who told us that our show would stay with her forever.

I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful people around me.

Next up, Hullaboo comes to the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Hope to see you there.

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Hullaboo and The End of Everything

 

Performed by Andrew Wade and Katie Purych
Written by Andrew Wade
SM: Bonnie Duff. Monster Design: Shelby Lyn Lowe

 

The story of an imaginary friend who refuses to be forgotten.

 

Hullaboo has been Mikaila The Magnificent’s sidekick for as long as he can remember, going on incredible adventures and fighting the evil Scowl. But now Mikaila is growing up without him and a monster is hunting Hullaboo. What can an imaginary friend do to survive?

“It’s smart, funny, and poignant – Fringe theatre at its finest…
If you ever wanted to see a Pixar movie at the Fringe, this is it.”
– Saskatoon StarPhoenix

From the creator/performer of The Hatter (4.5 stars, StarPhoenix), The Most Honest Man In The World (part of TOTE in 2017), and William vs The World. Wade also wrote the book/lyrics for a Vancouver Fringe ‘PICK OF THE FRINGE’ winner, TITUS! The Light and Delightful Musical Comedy of Titus Andronicus. (5 stars, Vancouver Sun)

LOCATION: Carousel Theatre (on Granville Island)
1411 Cartwright Street

TICKETS: 15$ + Membership fee
Cheaper if purchased as part of a package.
Purchase at http://tickets.vancouverfringe.com/ or at the door.

SHOWTIMES: (show length: 50 minutes)
September 6th (Thursday) – 6:15pm
September 7th (Friday) – 10:30pm
September 8th (Saturday) – 10pm
September 9th (Sunday) – 7:30pm
September 10th (Monday) – 6:15pm
September 12th (Wednesday) – 10:30pm
September 15th (Saturday) – 10pm
September 16th (Sunday) – 7:30pm

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Andrew Wade: actorwade@gmail.com 778.985.1617
Vancouver Fringe: publicity@vancouverfringe.com 604.257.0350

Hullaboo - Audra Balion Art smaller

Beautiful fan art by the lovely Audra Balion.  https://www.facebook.com/AudraBalionArt/

 

 

 

Categories: acting