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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

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

Every Two Weeks.


The Most Honest Man In The World - option 2b - Copy

Every Two Weeks.

 

Partly, I use the fringe circuit as a way to live different lives.

 

To test out different parallel universe Andrews, if you will.


 

For most of the year, there is a routine. Living in the suburb I grew up in. I have my day jobs. The occasional play. Family members to visit, old friends to chat with. My solitary home to go back to, maybe watch a show on my computer. Most of the year is caked, coated, overgrown with my personal history. That isn’t a bad thing, per say. It’s what I have made of my life.

 

But then there’s Fringe. Every two weeks, a new location, a new living situation, a new family, if you will. From seeing what life would be like were I the child of a retired military family who dine on exotic meats and wine in Regina, to sharing a living space with a nineteen-year-old drag queen in Toronto. And I get to be different, too. I have never been a bar hopper, but what the hey, why not head to the beer tents every night this time? Or use this free time to become a bookworm for a few days. Or struggle dearly to be a streetside salesman, pitching my fringey wares. To be the kind of fellow who has a one night stand, or the kind of person who shares in a week-long relationship, seeing a person you care for every single day.

 

Those aren’t the Andrews I am back in Richmond. I’m not that guy. But on the road, I am. And I am. And I am.

 

I dubbed this season, ‘the summer Andrew sorts out his stuff’. With a hashtag. And it’s not just the shows I’m performing. In The Most Honest Man In The World, I really am onstage trying to sort through the neuroses I held four years ago about relationships. Every performance, I want that epiphany, that moment, that ‘aha’ that spurs me forward in my personal growth. The show doesn’t work unless it’s equal parts hope and regret.

 

As The Most Honest Man In The World, I have to face the truth. Who am I? Well, when it comes to relationships, in Richmond, I am a 28 year old man who lives alone with a minifridge and a single bed who doesn’t know how to offer up enough of his life to make a relationship work. He knows what he knows and he is who he is. That man, The Most Honest Man In The World from the play, me at 24, I’m still mostly him. Less neurotic, less nervous, far more centred, but still mostly him. I’m just used to how I life my life.

 

But this summer, each summer, every two weeks, I get a glimpse of what it would be like if I lived differently. If I were someone else. Or someone else. Or someone else. Or someone else. Every ‘else’ as someone almost me, but in different circumstances, a different city, with different people.

 

Adulthood is partly the realization that you don’t get to be someone ‘when you grow up’. You are what you choose to focus on. In Richmond, there is an inertia to where I devote my focus. But on the road, with Fringe festivals and non-fringe stops inbetween, every two weeks I get to adopt a new and different focus. And a new and different focus. And a new and different focus. What would it be like if I DID devote more attention to this, or that, or this, or that? From Toronto to Ann Arbor to Saskatoon to Nanaimo to Victoria to Vancouver, with everything I own – the artifacts that describe who I am – packed up into boxes, crates, bags, and a lone travelling suitcase.

 

I don’t know which me is going to come home in the end. But I hope that he’s…

 

 

 

I don’t know. I don’t know what I hope for.

 

I hope that he learns how to focus.

 

How to focus better on what’s important in life.

 

Once he figures out what actually is important in life. For him. For me. Once I do. If I do.

Or I don’t.

 

 

There is so much left in this summer.

 

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Saskatoon Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1102726283074871/

Nanaimo Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1597063170563617/

Victoria Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1193881917293983/

Vancouver Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1633245323584144/

 

#TheSummerAndrewFiguresOutHisStuff

Thank you for the tea parties.

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

       
A few years ago, I had a crazy idea. I had cloistered myself up in British Columbia, hid away in school for twenty straight years, I was anxious and worried that I wouldn’t get the chances to perform in the real world, once I graduated… so I made a plan. A crazy plan. I decided to write myself a one man show and take it across the country.
       
Andrew Wade 011bI had no idea if I could hold anyone’s attention for an hour. I had no idea if I could write a show that’d work. I threw every theatrical idea into the show, creating a mad, patchwork quilt of ideas, and then threw most of them out. I mostly improvised a run at Vancouver Fringe in 2011. I rewrote the darn thing from the ground up. And then I took a deep breath, spent thousands of dollars, and took my little hat and kettle show on the road. First year, I went to London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon, spent over two months away from where I lived – the longest I had ever been on the road.
       
I got stuck backstage and had to pee in a water bottle a couple of minutes before my first performance. I sold exactly zero tickets to three of my first four performances. I was on greyhound buses for forty-three straight hours. I lost money. And it was worth it.
       
The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONI also met with mentors and brilliant performers who just wanted to help me along my journey. I made friends, colleagues, and talent crushes. I was introduced to the ridiculous art of attempting to smuggle women into your billet’s place without them noticing. I discovered from my billets just how charitable people can be and how awesome retirement is for a lot of people. I traveled the country, flew for only the third time in ten years. I made a man in Saskatoon give me a great big hug, break down, and cry, then loudly whoop at everyone on the street to come see my show.
       
And then, this summer, I brought The Hatter home. ‘Previewed’ it in Port Alberni to an empty town full of good intentions, brought it to Regina and was fed fancy meats while swatting mosquitoes and having a grand ol’ time. Then came the real homecoming tour.
       
Next, I went to Saskatoon, which had welcomed me so warmly, it felt like home. There’s a reason I was able to perform the most personal work I’ve ever written, there: a new show, The Most Honest Man In The World. Me being me. And most people still called me The Hatter, anyhow.
       
Then came Victoria. The big gulp of nervous air, a city of people I had treasured for seven years, then skipped out on when my degree was up. Spent a quarter of my life there. Felt like I was awaiting their judgment, wanting the city, old friends, ex-girlfriends, to tell me I had made the right call, that I’d made something of myself, out there in that bigger ol’ world. And the people who matter, they gave me just that. And oddly, most reassuringly of all, Victoria, well, it didn’t feel like home anymore. The Hatter is a play about searching for home. In its first draft, it was muchly a play of regretting leaving someplace, some people, somewhere. Now, it’s not that.
       
Now, The Hatter is about moving on.
       
And here we are in Vancouver, at home, and The Hatter is about to hang up his hat. No future plans for him. Nothing set. Just one more celebration, tonight at 8:15pm.
       
Thank you for the tea parties.
       
       
The Hat