I’m not prone to generalizations, but I don’t think it a stretch to say that everyone wonders at some point in their lives what other possibilities were out there, if they had gone down a different career path. What if I had gone into the sciences, instead? What if I had aimed to stay as a full-time staffer at that observatory? What if?
I will freely admit that I do wonder whether or not my own is the wisest course of action, whether my ambitious drive into the world of theatre is a quest worth pursuing, a goal worthy of fitting my whole life around. Whether I might be just as happy doing something else, somewhere else, for (assuredly) more money. More security. More regularity. Whether or not I should be proud of my current life of balancing part-time jobs in order to make just enough rent that I can spend all my weekends and evenings creating theatre and performing (typically without pay, no less!). After a stretch of working daytimes and rehearsing evenings, these thoughts can run through my head. I admit that.
That said, I flat out deny the notion of ‘if you can imagine yourself being content doing anything else, then DO THAT OTHER THING INSTEAD’ that gets floated about concerning all the arts (be they acting, writing, visual art, you name it). Hogwash. Of course I could find a decent modicum of happiness somewhere else. The world is great and vast, and there are so many excellent potentials out there, so many avenues to pursue, adventures to explore. Any man who could not find happiness in more than one pursuit is a man I pity. But I wager that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, like standing centre-stage and igniting two hundred people into laughter, compassionate silence, or enthusiastic jeers. Nowhere else makes me so completely and wholly grateful to be alive.
Do I act to be famous? No, but it’s nice to be recognized. Do I act for the continually renewed challenge of live theatre? Partly. I’ve found that when the challenge of a job disappears, so too does my interest, whereas live theatre is a new and different adventure every single night, because the conversation between actors and audience is different every night, even if the lines and choreography remain the same.
But no, the main reason I perform is because the act of sharing a story fills me with a delight unlike anything else on Earth.
Except perhaps the happy dance I do after a lady agrees to go on a date with me. Even there, theatre might win out.
Saturday night was opening night for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a pseudo-pantomimish musical absolutely brimming with delightful energy. Big, bold, and British. Marvelous. And this show has instilled me, nay, possessed me, with a spirit of gratitude, from the moment we found our first preview audience. Since that first night, I have found myself treasuring my friends and family moreso than usual. I have repeatedly thanked God for all the opportunities in my life. I have found new ways to deeply enjoy my work. I have had a grin plastered on my face. I’ve had to suppress a strong urge to hug every friendly acquaintance I meet. I’ve needed less sleep. Heck, after opening night, and the opening night festivities, and post-festivities, I arrived home at 6am, and STILL had too much energy leftover to sleep for another couple of hours. I am vitalized, potent, present.
The lesson from all this? Life is a bigger, brighter wonderful when I have a stage and a story to share. It happens every show. Every project. And any time spent between performances, between opportunities, is a valley in comparison to this peak of exultant contentment.
And THAT’S why I’ve chosen a career in theatre. Not because I couldn’t possibly do anything else, but because, by gum, I have found nothing so irrationally fulfilling as this.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood plays at The Metro from now until March 3rd, with 8pm evening performances on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 29th, 1st, 2nd, and the 3rd, and a 3pm matinee performance on the 26th. Review at: http://www.reviewvancouver.org/th_drood12.htm . Tickets at: http://ticketstonight.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1682
- Edwin Drood: The mysterious appeal of Dickens’ darkest tale (independent.co.uk)
- Solving the Mystery of Edwin Drood (guardian.co.uk)
- My Theatrical 2011 in Pictures (adewade.wordpress.com)
- The Mystery of Edwin Drood: A Dickens of a whodunnit (guardian.co.uk)
2 thoughts on “The Mysterious Energy of Edwin Drood”
Thank you, Mack. And thank you for your own blog post – I appreciate getting an honest view into the challenges you’re facing as an actor. As someone a couple of years behind you, it’s good to get some insight into all the steps along the way.
And to be honest, when I saw that you were cast in the last show you were in, I immediately thought ‘I could have pulled off that role!’ and wished I had been given an opportunity to audition. Which is not to say I wasn’t also happy for you. 🙂
When I think of the state of ‘gladiatorial battle’ our industry is in… it really makes me wonder if there is more wisdom in that old idea of building a troupe of actors and using them to build each and every show. But that might require a couple of strong playwrights in the group to constantly be building or adapting good works to fit this troupe’s members, rather than the model of finding the project and auditioning for actors to fit.
Good blog, Andrew. I just posted up the inverse over at my blog – about the terror of not having anything to work on. Check it out if you like: mackgordon.tumblr.com