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My full-time summer, one month in.

Previously on Andrew Wade’s blog, our intrepid adventurer set out to make this summer far more theatrical and career-useful than summers past, by sending out a plea for aid, advice, and assistance to help him on his way.

I was fortunate enough to meet up with him in his humble rented room and ask him a few questions:


So, what are the biggest realizations you’ve made, now that you’ve spent a month on the job?

Two things: Responsibility/Leadership and Balance.

I have discovered just how important it is to me, personally, to give my absolute all in whatever I’m doing. On the week I spent writing, memorizing, and rehearsing Heemeyer and the Killdozer, for example, I tried to see if I could squirrel away time at the Centre of the Universe to work on the piece, but, mentally, morally, I couldn’t. Felt like I was betraying the promise I made when I signed back on at the CU, hiding behind closed office doors, setting a bad example for the (younger) co-op students.

Andrew, Lord of the Observatory (photo: Erika Joubert.)

I am not fond of half-assing anything (pardon my English).

This isn’t to say that every work hour I have is productive – unfortunately, certainly not – but that actively trying to do non-work-related activities felt dishonest, because there really were projects (such as building clocks for the different planets) to spend time on.

So I resigned myself to the knowledge that I would be spending my few after hours researching, writing, editing, and memorizing away. Which was actually a good deal of satisfying fun. And needless to say, the performing of the piece was a downright blast, a huge ego-boost, and led to marvellous conversations afterwards.


And for balance?

Life balance, specifically. I’m in my best mental mindset when I have a mix of socializing and alone-time every day, some physical exercise, good nutrition, some performance (which, I’ll admit, includes putting on 45 minute planetarium shows and telescope tours), and some mental creation work (I’ll include both writing and book-reading in this category). On a weekly basis, some God time (typically church) and time spent with children are pretty darn necessary too.

This means that, say, going to the gym each day as I had eagerly discussed with friends, is legitimately tough, because I’m already biking for two hours. (Sorry Graeme, though I really do appreciate all your help, and I am taking your fashion advice to heart.) That said, I am now (as of yesterday) making an effort to use my free-weights every day according to a routine he showed me. Bulk up those arm muscles. GRR. MANLY.

Honestly, my life right now is surprisingly balanced! I go to church on Sundays, teach children about astronomy at my job, and have the occasional great opportunity (thanks Janet Munsil!) and Impromaniacs to tie me into the outside theatre world. Even the bike commute isn’t so tough, though I do wish it would stop raining quite so often. (For the record, busses aren’t an option – they wouldn’t get me to work on time.) (gee, I’m really loving parentheses today.)

True, I may not be honing my craft as intensely as I do during the rest of the year, but I’m not avoiding it. And I am doing some writing, be it in this blog, or hand-written letters to friends, or a monologue about a homemade tank. I should really get on editing my plays and putting them online, mind.


So life is all hunky-dory, then? Perfect and idealized?

Well, of course not – there are always ways to improve. I still spend too much time reading the internet in my few off hours, don’t write quite enough, and spend far too much time at work dithering about. But I ain’t perfect, and I don’t expect my life to be so, either.

There’s also the looming potential that I won’t be able to finish my writing degree this year, as the one course I need to graduate conflicts with my acting classes in both terms. I’ve written an email to the chair of the department to see if we can make a deal somehow, though. So the prayer of serenity will tide me over there for the next few days:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I would like to add, “God grant me clarity and self-awareness, so I can know how to create fulfilling days.”


You might want to work on your method of writing convincing fake interviews, too.

Quiet, you. 🙂

The dangers of a working summer for an actor.

May 2, 2010 4 comments

Perseid Night at The Centre of the Universe

Perseid Night - by Erika Joubert

The Problem

I am walking down a dangerous path — that of the full-time, not-so-acting-related summer job.

From Tuesday through September, I shall be back at the Centre of the Universe giving tours of what was the world’s largest optical telescope (93 years ago), running planetarium shows, holding summer camps, and teaching school groups. I genuinely enjoy working there; the staff are great people, the job doesn’t impose undue amounts of stress, and I get paid to learn more about the universe. But it isn’t acting. It pays for my tuition for the year, and forces me to exercise by requiring an hour-long bike ride to and from work (including a few kilometres up a mountain). But it isn’t acting, and, being an observatory, I need to, well, work in the nighttime. Go figure.

And night shifts mean no acting. No Shakespeare in the Park, no Fringe Festival, limited time with The Impromaniacs… and a tiring, long-commute, full-time job to boot.

A Little History

Over four prior co-op work terms, I haven’t a good track record at keeping up my passions. As a Granville Island Ambassador, Telus World of Science Science Facilitator, TRIUMF Tour Guide, and CU Astronomy Interpreter,  I wrote perhaps three short stories and half a play in total, and acted in a limited fashion with the Impromaniacs last summer, unnecessarily understudied for a Fringe Show, and competed in a monologue competition. That’s about all.

This used to worry me, that I could effectively live a life without writing or acting, a real-world life with a rent-paying, 9-5 (mostly) job and all that comes with it. But the truth is? My summers are rarely ever nearly as satisfying as what I do for the rest of my year at UVic, learning through workshops, plays, acting classes, movement pieces, voice techniques… my summers feel like something away from myself, outside of the stream of my life. Like I go on hiatus until September.

The Questions

But how can I keep up a hard dedication to my crafts when I’m waking up at 7am and getting home at 6pm, tired to my bones and soaking wet from the rain and muddy streets? How can I focus on movement and voice warm-ups, on honing my body through training programs and work-outs, when I’m losing sleep week by week and already biking for a couple of hours every day as part of my commute? When, rather than being encircled by a fleet of eagerly encouraging classmates, I’m surrounded instead by my collection of video games and television shows; when I’m all ‘socialed out’ by the time I get home, and don’t feel a desire to go out and interact with my lovely theatre community?

I’m not saying this to go all boo hoo hoo, poor artist me… I’m genuinely asking. Because my past summers have been all about doing professional work and living a home-life hermitry. About being the average working stiff who earns his keep, then ‘relaxes’ his brief evenings away. Granted, that keep includes a year’s tuition and rent and such to help hold me through the school year (when I also work 15-20 hours a week), but still.

I’ve been trying to solve this problem for years now.

My mind shouts to me to reach out to my community, to use my community’s positive pressures, like Graeme and his excellently thought-out work-out routine, like Impromaniacs shows, and like weekly writing groups. To corner myself into ensuring that I enter my final year at UVic armed with more than paid tuition, four unrelated months, and mostly-unrelated skills.

My sanity questions whether I can handle imposing more obligations on my schedule for a four-month-long stretch.

My dreams demand that I do better.

The Plea

I don’t have a tidy answer; no little epigram of wisdom to carry me through. So I’m asking: Any advice? What do you do to stay connected to your crafts in a full-time-job world?

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