Fifteen months after finishing that two year course on “Creating Theatre” (read more), hardly a week goes by without a few people asking, “How’s the acting going?” If nothing else, it proves how rarely I see many people I know. Loose connections. The brief answer to that question is “It’s not”. Which is fine, but requires some expansion.
Which is understandable. I spent two years doing acting evening classes, then two more years doing a full-time course that was physically and mentally demanding. It’s understandable that people, you, would expect me to continue with all that. But, so far, I’m not at all.
The first couple of months after the course ended I was applying for parts in no/low-budget short films, as a change from the collaborative theatre that I found so difficult at LISPA. I had a couple of auditions, and got one small part, which was fun, but that was it.
It’s incredibly difficult to even get an audition for a student film that will pay no money and, when it comes down to it, if I’m honest, I’m not sure I want to act enough to go through that struggle.
I’ve always been impressed with people who suddenly switch careers part-way through adult life and, while I wasn’t setting my heart on acting, I wondered if I’d manage such a change. Part of me wanted to show that, although difficult, changes like this are possible. But it’s even harder than I expected and you really need to want to make the change.
I was more ambivalent. Not only had I got a career underway in one world (making internet stuff) I wasn’t desperate to get away from it. Although I felt in a rut, it was otherwise fine. In acting classes my mind would often wander to website ideas, whereas the reverse — thinking about theatre while staring at the screen — rarely occurred.
There are, however, many things I miss about acting, theatre in particular.
I miss using my body, rather than merely my brain and my tippy-tappy-typing fingers. That physicality felt good.
I miss doing stuff in the real world, that exist in space. Frustration with things that disappear when a screen is turned off is what makes me do these crazy courses.
I miss making things that might, hopefully, make people laugh or cry. That’s much less likely to happen on the web.
I miss the seat-of-the-pants nature of a live performance, surfing through it just ahead of a wave of disaster.
I miss collaborating with lovely people on something nebulous that eventually becomes almost tangible. It was very, very difficult, but when it worked it was a wonderful experience.
I miss being in front of an audience. I may be quiet, and spend most of my time sitting alone at a computer, but I love being on a stage.
But I’m not sure I miss any of that enough to start on the bottom rung of another “career” ladder when I’m not unhappy on the current one. To make a success of acting you really, really need to love it. For many of the people on my course theatre is all they’ve ever wanted to do.
Of course, I don’t have to try and make a living from this stuff. Most “actors” probably earn their money with other jobs and work on theatre, films, etc in their free time. But I fill my free time up with projects far too easily, so acting has a lot of competition.
Besides which, I don’t know what kind of acting I’d really want to do. I think I’d be far more picky than someone in my position could afford to be. I have little desire to spend weeks rehearsing something that’s not very good, just to perform it to friends for a handful of nights, solely for the sake of satisfying my urge to be on stage. It seems like a waste of everyone’s time. But only wanting to act in decent productions, with committed and talented people, is erecting even more barriers to entry than I already have.
That, then, is the long answer to the question “How’s the acting going?” I may find something I want to do with it again in the future. I’d like to, but it’s fine that I haven’t done so yet. There are lots of other things I want to do.
Right now I’m enjoying being immersed in the internet world again. There are many things I want to make, many people I’d love to work with, and enough paying work to more than pay the bills. All of which seems a pretty good position to be in.
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