A Crisis of Career

What you say, so very brightly:

“Just find another job.”
“Time to find a REAL job.”
“You had your fun. Time to join the grown ups!”
“All good things must come to an end!”

What I hear:

“What an idiot. You sunk 7 years of schooling into a hyper-specialized field. You did an apprentice year to create valuable professional connections, moved around the country to chase your silly profession, and–despite completely supporting yourself your entire career–now need to sink back down to the bottom of the career ladder when you figure out what on earth your next step is. Career change? Start a business using your skills*? Uprooting my family to compete for one of the very few entertainment jobs remaining?”

* When what you do has traditionally considered women’s work (note: not monetarily valued), the pushback to get a fair wage is draining. You would never question the hours of labor a mechanic charges, so why is there resistance for a seamstress charging for that time when he/she/they alter your wedding dress? Fast fashion made in sweatshops has ruined our perception of what clothing costs.

Click Clack Moo, CSU Fresno Theatre For Young Audiences

Seven years of my education (eight, if you count my apprentice year) is evaporating. Years working my way up in professional theatres; creating connections and connecting others; learning from everyone around me; staying current on new technologies, materials and methods; and creating a space where students feel welcome, valued, and can maximize their creativity

I am lucky enough to be in a staff position at a university, so my circumstances are not as dire as my friends working in the professional world. I still am grappling with what could happen and the long term ramifications of theatres closing their doors for the next six months at a minimum, and what the re-entry will be.

Will theatre be working at reduced capacity?

Will there be a safe way to bring actors together on stage and in dressing rooms?

Will this mean smaller casts? Fewer costumes?

Will the abysmal job market mean that students no longer wish to study and pursue the arts?

The bright light in all of this is the opportunity for there to be a reset in the industry.
Give time, space, money, and attention given to BIPOC playwrights, musicians, actors, designers, technicians, and producers
Raise the voices of those who have been shouting from the margins for years
Challenge the misogyny
Destroy the fat phobia
Vigilantly call out bad behavior and microaggressions
End the practice of using unpaid labor (interns)
Create an industry that is economically accessible, not something only for the rich

How do we get to something better? We are an entire industry full of creative problem solvers, but can’t ignore that the power and big money go hand in hand. I have no answers, but am determined to fight to move the needle.

Hang tight, theatre friends.

We make people fly.
We turn servants into princesses with a twirl.
We create the ambience of a swamp with the push of a button (lights 46, go)
We make hearts soar with a single note.
We tell stories.
We. Make. Magic.

It’s ok to mourn what we have lost, fear what we might lose next, and live in the low-key anxious buzzing of not knowing how we come back from this. What is NOT ok is for anyone to minimize our impact to society or to undercut how important it is to contribute to the human experience through the art of creating a world to tell a story.

Get a “real” job, my ass.

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