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Thrive to Survive

August 29, 2012

You love theatre.  You have chosen it as your career.  But sometimes, those theatre jobs just don’t pay.  So, what do you do?  Stop doing theatre? NO! Get other jobs to support you while you do theatre anyway!  Sarcasm yes, but, truth being you need to eat and, let’s be real, not all theatre jobs pay you enough to do that.  Must the jobs that pay also be the jobs you hate?  Are there ways around the soul-wrenching 9-5’s so that you can thrive while you survive?  I like to think so.

I can’t stand it when people will say to me “you have such a great mind and good education; why not use it to make money?”  In my hyper-emotional artist’s mind, that is the same as saying to me: “you have great tits and a great ass; why don’t you use it to make money?”  Yes, that’s right, I did just compare the cubicle to the street corner!  As I remember it, coming home after a day at the office, I felt dejected and soulless.  I can only assume that exploiting your mind for someone else’s gain would feel the same as exploiting your body.  That is not to say that all office jockeys are miserable prostitutes shelling out 70% of their net profits to their pimp boss.  I know a good many people who enjoy putting on the suit and tie and sitting in a temperature controlled room.  I, however, cannot.  In that environment I am miserable, but that does not mean you have to be completely miserable in your existence outside of the theatre world.  I am a firm believer that people have endless talents and pleasures that are, at times, so random they themselves can’t even understand it.  Humans are complex.  So, why not use your survival job to embellish those other fancies?

As a Dramaturg, I do not get a chance to work with my hands very often.  It just so happens I was lucky enough to have gotten my BA from a theatre program that insisted all students experience almost every level of theatre, such as set building, props, run crew, make up, costumes, etc.  It was there I discovered I love working with my hands.  Building and using tools; even the demolition aspect of strike was satisfying.  But as I became more specialized it left little room for a hobby such as random prop building.  As times got tough, I found myself looking for work anywhere I could get it.  I now have the training to work in minor construction/repair.  Outside all day, utilizing the skills that I thought were locked away forever.

But just like that regrettable office job, when you find yourself feeling dejected and soulless, remind yourself that this is not what you have to do, it’s what you want to do. When you don’t want to do it anymore, stop.  There are other fields, other avenues to explore.  Do you like making crafts?  Make them (and sell them)!  Do you like dogs? Walk them, wash them; people will pay you for that!  In my years as a theatre artist I have also been, a cashier, an office assistant, a teacher’s assistant, a photographer’s assistant, a retail salesperson, and swimming pool servicer.  I don’t regret taking any one of these non-theatre jobs; but I don’t regret leaving them either.

How do you explore the eccentricities of your personality outside of theatre?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2012 2:24 pm

    Couldn’t agree more on working an office job. I recently switched from an 8-4 job to waiting tables. I’m making considerably less, but feel so much better about myself as a artist and have more time to do the things I want. Great post!

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  1. Sunday Summary — September 2, 2012 « The Green Room

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