In my morning surfing, I came across this post from a theater colleague and good friend. Her daughter is a few years older than mine, and one of my earliest memories of working with her was not the production we were on together but the juggling done by her to arrange cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday during opening weekend where she was both prop mistress and house manager. I got to go celebrate the then two year old with the family and other close friends. In that simple act, my friend highlighted it is possible – hard, but possible – to be a good parent and a good theater artist. It all depends on the concessions you’re willing to make.
I miss theater. I miss working on a show, getting the timing just right, heck – even line notes. I don’t miss coming home after bathtime, handoffs in the parking lot as the Bald One goes to work or not hearing about that day’s adventures over dinner. I tell (lie?) to myself about the fact that I’ll be back. After Gummi Bear was born, it was slightly easier. For the first year or so of her life, the Bald One was full time dad and job searcher. After he went back to work, we started juggling. I didn’t do as many full productions and there were nights where Gummi Bear was handed off in her pajamas in a parking lot. Once Buddy Roo came into the picture, combined with my changing role at the day job, things got more difficult to carve time for theater work. It doesn’t help that my chosen path in the theater is one that requires more hands-on scheduled time* than any of the other disciplines.
All that being said…I’m happy making trade offs. I tell myself that the project management I do in my day job is close enough to the work I was doing in the theater that I feel like I’m getting what I want on a daily basis. I get to travel, I get paid decently, I get to work with a variety of people in numerous disciplines to produce products and just like in theater when things go well nobody knows what I do. I get to have dinner with my family. I put my kids to bed. I bought a new car this year. But there are days, where I sit in yet another meeting filled with marketing speak and big ideas without action that I wonder if I would have been happier fighting my way through salad days to sit in the back of a room and press buttons hoping everything goes right so that nobody knows I’m even there.
*Since I know I’m going to have to explain that: I’m a stage manager when I work in the theater. We’re supposed to be there before everyone else, we’re often the one cleaning up and throwing folks out. We have paperwork to do every night to maintain communications between the designers (who aren’t at rehearsals) and are maintaining schedules for actors & such. The director comes to all rehearsals, but often is not required at performances unless they want to or are wanting to run the brush up rehearsal when there is one. Actors often have nights off during the rehearsal process, depending on show. Everyone has external to rehearsal/performance work – learning lines, building sets, scouting props, hanging & focusing lights, sourcing music…but for the most part those have flexible task times versus a set rehearsal/performance time. I’m not saying we do more work as a stage manager…just that the schedule for our work is likely more rigid than other disciplines. All this is my opinion, feel free to scoff.