|White Woman In Progress, at 7Stages Theater
through April 9, 2017
But this morning I woke up thinking about those air quotes. And I can't stop thinking about them. My whole life I've shunned the title of artist. I've discredited the bulk of my performances in one way or another: Improv? Silly make-em ups or skits. Stagecraft? Nope, its just a little play, community theater. Voice-overs? Mostly romance novels, and one-off local radio spots. Movies and TV? Blink and you'll miss me. I wouldn't dare put myself on a level with Broadway, or the Silver Screen, or even the Alliance (our big Equity house here in town). Sure I carry a SAG card, but I don't make enough money most years to qualify for health care. I'm not a REAL actor, and I'm certainly not an artist. This is the way I've seen my whole career, for which I've given up just about everything else - and I never questioned that... until I decided to put on my own one-woman show. Now that could reasonably be considered artistry. It's like the hardest thing I've ever done! And I'm truly creating something from just about nothing! So yeah, I can't avoid the title, and I don't want to. In my mind I've finally earned it. So when Mr. Osborne introduced me as an actor only occasionally doing "legitimate" theater, I smiled and nodded - Dude, we're on the same page. This time it actually counts.
That night at Agatha's, as the last of the audience got their parking tickets stamped and filed out joyfully reminding each other of their favorite moments - a lone couple in their late 20s shyly approached us. We were out of costume, our duties fulfilled, we'd already thanked the guests and now we were off the clock. But we didn't mind, cause we're actors, and we're lucky enough to eek out a living telling jokes. So we turned to acknowledge them. They were in tears. "We wanted to thank you," the woman said. "This is our first night out since our 1 year old son died four months ago. We never thought we'd laugh again. You saved our lives."
As our administration attempts to gut the National Endowment for the Arts, I realize that I have willingly participated in the system that allows our society to dismiss and discount any art that doesn't make money, that doesn't make sense, that doesn't doesn't make a huge sweeping impact. But that is unfair, inhuman, and suicidal. Art is vital. Art is undefinable. But most importantly - ART IS LEGITIMATE. Please tell your representatives. And if you have time, come check out my art - all of it.