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When the Artist in Me is Silent

Today, I call myself unemployed and that feeling of suffering is very real because the artist in me is silent. However, that suffering is the greatest motivator of all. It drives me to my next artistic endeavor like a moth to the flame.

27I’ve already discussed at one point or another, the insanity that is required to be happy with the choice to live and work in theatre. Its shit pay, shit hours with densely inflated competition. Everyone is a god damn actor; perhaps because everyone can move, talk, breathe and live. However, being an actor requires much more than this. It requires the actual act of acting.

Yesterday I was an actor. I was on a stage, in front of an audience, performing the role of Todd in a workshop production of Daniel MacIvor’s newest play, INSIDE, directed by David Ferry: An amazing experience, an amazing week with amazingly talented people. Today, however, I am unemployed, sitting yet again at my computer typing the day away with only my thoughts to keep me company. Today I am unemployed and if I don’t do something to change this state of being then I will soon be poverty stricken and you will eventually find me begging for change in some sort of creative way at Yonge and Bloor.

I think this is an important distinction: Knowing that I am an actor when I am acting and that I am not an actor when I am not. The dark days, as one would expect is when I am not. Now, you could argue that this is a very pessimistic outlook on my artistry. Let me beg to differ.

If I am the artist that I make myself out to be then for every moment that I am not able to be an actor (or director, or producer), I should be suffering some sort of loss of self. In the deepest roots of my being I am an artist and I feel that most when I am practicing as such. So when I do not, I suffer the loss of the part of myself that I treasure most. I value the artist in me more than anything, and it breaks my heart when I end a project knowing that I don’t have another artistic output to immediately leap into. I believe this awareness of suffering is a good thing.

As artists, we should crave the art, every day, every moment, like a mother craves her child. The mother will do whatever she can to bring her child back, to feel the breath of her child on her neck when she picks him up, cradles him and tucks him into bed. This is how I feel about my art. I miss it when it is away. I crave it. I suffer because it is gone, and I do everything I can to bring it back.

I communicate most effectively with the artist in me through my art. Each project I produce is a vivid and complex communication between my consciousness and my artist ego. They share and exchange delicate ideas and together find the answers. Those answers are then shared with you. It is the point of my life and being such, I do everything to make sure that I am proactive and hard working.

I am most alive when I work hard, when I climb the ladder, when I advance fearlessly into the dark, when I choose to undertake a project that I do not know if I have the abilities to make a success. It’s called terror. That terror makes me feel like every moment, every breath counts. It brings me to a point of life and death in my art that we safe little North Americans rarely ever get to feel. The stakes are more than real. I need this, and I miss it constantly. I suppose that makes me an artistic adrenaline junkie.

It is a reward to call myself an actor, because I am acting. It is a reward to call myself a director, because I am directing. It is a reward to call myself a producer because I am producing. Today, I call myself unemployed and that feeling of suffering is very real because the artist in me is silent. However, that suffering is the greatest motivator of all. It drives me to my next artistic endeavor like a moth to the flame. Sure enough, in a matter of days, perhaps hours, perhaps minutes, I will launch myself into the next artistic chapter and I will be at home yet again.


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Caleb McMullen

Written by Caleb McMullen

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheatreisforSuckers.com

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