My college pal Kendra wrote a hilarious and way-too-true blog post – 10 Ways Being a Theatre Major Ruined My Life. Read it here first, and enjoy my point-by-point rebuttal below.
Then go back and read all the posts on Kendragarden.com – she’s a whiz!
1. I was fortunate to have an amazing teacher and mentor in Larry Hovis. The primary key to success he imparted was being “On time, prepared, and sober.” It seems simple, right? But so much of my success in life occurred because I showed up ready to rock when other people didn’t. I’m not always sober, so I show up early and spend a little extra time preparing. Rest In Peace, Larry. We miss you.
2. In the business world I am as quirky as they come. As a theatre student at Southwest Texas State University, I couldn’t even medal in the Weirdo Olympics. But after all that time with my freak flag unfurled – I can’t pull it down. I learned who I am, flaws and all, and fuck anyone that can’t hang.
3. I got it all out of my system. I hate karaoke, dancing, and anything that draws attention to me. That stuff is for stage time. When I’m not on stage DON’T look at meeeeeeeeeee… (Curls into a ball and slides under the table (that draws *more* attention to me? Oh god…I *am* dramatic!)).
4. I have real (as in tangible) life skills. If you think majoring in theatre involved blow-off classes and lots of booze, pot and sex – you are 100% correct. But it occasionally involved difficult classes, like Lighting Design and Theatre History, taught by brilliant (if somewhat stoic) professors who found actors to be the least useful creatures on the planet. I was in no way funny or charming to them. I learned to do the hard work and not fall back on my amiable personality and rugged good looks sense of humor. I learned to work well with others in high-pressure situations. I learned to get up in the morning no matter how late I was up the night before. I did have to learn all of the “real” life stuff after college, but fuck other peoples’ definition of real life anyway.
5. I can’t enjoy passive entertainment without casting a particularly critical eye toward the acting. I’m irritating at movies, plays, and in front of the TV. But in real life, I know when I’m being bull-shitted. This comes in especially handy as a father.
6. A couple of times a week, I have a variation on the same nightmare. Either it’s opening night and I forgot to memorize my lines or I’m all of a sudden on stage in a corset but I don’t know what play we’re doing and no one will tell me. Then I remember…I can improvise my balls off! Let’s make this dream about my wife in nerd glasses on a skateboard…rrrrrrrrrrawr!
7. I memorized lines. At parties. While drinking. So now, everything that enters my brain sticks. Songs, movies, the way you weren’t 100% sincere when you congratulated me. All of it. This one is somewhat dubious when you watch a lot of The Wiggles. Beyond that, though, I remember it all. Useful? Occasionally. Impressive? It beats talking about the weather.
8. I am incapable of taking a normal picture. In Kendra’s list this is meant to be negative somehow. I don’t see the problem. I am incapable of taking a normal picture!!! Wheeeeee…!!!
9. I can totally play it cool around minor celebrities.
10. When people ask what I majored in at college, I “act” and say, “business.”
Strange days indeed, y’all. Not terrible, because there have definitely been worse. Just…weird. My Top 5 Weirdest Show Experiences…
5. Forgetting a prop during a rehearsal and being accused by the director of “Intentionally sabotaging the show.” I…forgot? The prop?
4. Rehearsing an entire production of William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor outdoors. By the swimming pool at the director’s apartment complex. With her son, in desperate need of attention, walking in and out of scenes.
3. Watching a mother/daughter director/stage manager team have loud, awkward personal arguments in front of the entire cast and crew.
2. Performing that same production of The Merry Wives of Windsor indoors. At a bar. In front of the pool table. With the director’s son, still in desperate need of attention, walking in and out of scenes.
1. A director making a solemn opening night curtain speech about her daughter who had recently passed away. And then introducing our musical comedy. “Hello, Dolly! Well Hellooooooooooo Dolly…!!!”
Relatively speaking, these aren’t even that weird. I mean, I once “improvised” as a head on a platter in a buffet line at a party.
Read that last sentence again. Hell yes.
Inspirational speeches always point out the tough times you can expect in carving out your own path in life – the hurdles you’ll have to clear on the rocky road to success. What’s often missing in soaring “Follow Your Dreams” rhetoric is that, sometimes, following your dreams does not look like following your dreams. At all. Rocky roads are easier to travel when you know it’s the correct rocky road. But my 5-Year plan never included “Portray talking appetizer” or “Shakespeare with neglected toddler.”
“I have had to fight like Hell and fighting like Hell has made me what I am.”
If your path is and always has been a clear, straight line – Rock On! But for the rest of us there are obstacles, detours, and red rooms with backward-talking little people. So what you’re left with is simply – yourself. You can’t trust the road. Trust you. That gum you like will come back in style. Hell. Yes.
“Why, then the world’s my oyster which I with sword will open”
– William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor
Propers to my wife, Melissa Cathcart, for a little help with this one. Propers to me for introducing her to Twin Peaks. ;o)