While cleaning the apartment and prepping for tonight’s Colby Awards (an annual awards ceremony at Wheaton Drama aka WDI that honors parties that work backstage) I started thinking about my time with WDI in general.
Ever since I had the privilege to be cast in WDI’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels back in May of 2012… I haven’t been able to leave the group since.
A self-proclaimed “floater” wherein I join a theatre group, partake in a couple of shows then disappear to the next group, Wheaton Drama was the first that provided an opportunity that I never had in the past: to work in stage management backstage.
After Dirty Rotten Scoundrels it was agreed that for the next musical (in this case The Sound of Music later that year) I would help as ASM and learn the ropes as it were. The original intent being that I learn as much as possible and I could rotate with the other SMs for the musicals so I could still audition for shows around the Chicagoland area and suburbs. I wanted to have the flexibility of not only being onstage but backstage as well as my work schedule dictates.
Before Dirty Rotten Scoundrels I was lucky enough to be in productions and to have had opportunities to interact with various parties to build confidence and joy in being onstage… and although I loved it (for it was a kind of escape from everything else) I knew a balance between the two parts of me was completed me.
However, as the story goes, an ex-bf was cast in The Sound of Music that forced me to beg out of the production for my own sanity and I had to wait until the next production came along before I could be ASM (in this case WDI’s Into the Woods.
So what did I do between Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Into the Woods? I was lucky enough to be cast in Piece of My Heart as Leeann and Blithe Spirit as Elvira in two of my favorite roles to date, which both also caused me to lose out / turn down a fair number of other productions / projects I auditioned for due to scheduling conflicts
What I didn’t know then was that after being ASM for Into the Woods I would find myself on a steady trend to continue working behind the scenes in any number of areas. As thus for the 2013/2014 season I ended up being SM/ASM for three of the productions that season, video edited commercials for two others… but the itch to audition again was high, and I closed the door to audition due to my desire to work backstage since one of the SMs could no longer do so. But my desire to be onstage was still high, so soon after the closing of the final show of the 2013/2014 season I auditioned for the opening show of the 2014/2015… however in between the two seasons, I agreed to help SM the summer fundraiser and video edited a commercial for the summer production (are you keeping track? At WDI alone including the opening production for the 2014/2015 season I had participated in eight productions over an eleven month span. And that’s not including a quick jaunt to the west for a one-night production as well as a ten-minute play that I wrote being produced in a far west theatre… so really ten shows in eleven months), and that was when it hit me. I was burning out, and fast.
With two shows that I really wanted to audition for later in the season I needed to find the love for theatre again somehow, to find the joy so I can escape from the growing concerns happening on the familial front. But when auditions rolled around for the first of the two I found that I just couldn’t bring my all to the table. It felt like a slog to just prep, it felt like work to simply audition. So I called the director the day before auditions and apologized for backing out and hoped he found a cast worthy (which he did and I loved the production) and hoped that maybe things will change for the next production.
Unfortunately by this time the familial situation deteriorated to the point where I simply couldn’t audition in the foreseeable future, and didn’t. Being burned out in theatre on top of that certainly didn’t help, and my more disillusioned side took over and I said I was retiring from theatre… little did I know.
I worked, I helped my family, I went through the motions of life just to get by as my creative side suffered as a result. But I didn’t mind, because when December 2015 rolled into January 2016… I was reeling of the passing of my beloved grandfather.
Which then opened the door to help a friend out for the 2015/2016 season. The SM was taking a trip for his anniversary which would force him to miss tech week for the closing production of the season. I agreed to fill in as a favor with the intention of never doing another production again. Granted in spring of 2016 another friend asked to partake in a one-shot production for a monthly meeting and I realized that the acting bug was still there, just in hibernation.
For some reason (that I really don’t recall at the moment) I went to a monthly meeting and found out that WDI was in need of a Membership Chair for the 2016/2017 season, since at the time I wasn’t asked to do any production other than the final one of the season, a chance to build the Membership Committee to a point that it can be robust was alluring to me and I jumped on board…
Then pieces fell like dominos and I found myself SM for three productions of the season, APM for one other production, but in the middle of it all I was acting again, plus I directed a one-night only piece.
Am I burned out? Not in the least, the pace was nowhere near as crazy as it was last time, and I have already turned down being SM for the musicals in the upcoming season with the intention to audition again. One could say I have learned my lesson…
I would rather say that I fell in love with theatre again… and really to me, that is what matters most.