The time I almost quit acting

I knew what this week’s blog was going to be about. As I packed up my bag after class I pictured myself knocking it out in an afternoon, possibly that very same day. I ignored the nagging feeling that I hadn’t actually written a blog for last week, weekly posts being something that Cay and I have never explicitly discussed but something that I do feel an occasional responsibility towards, but hey, quality over quantity right?

These are a small sample of the thoughts going on in my head when Cay dropped a bomb like the U.S. targeting Middle Eastern extremist groups in 2003, just kidding, yesterday, from the aptly named George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier at the command of out Hope candidate (history does repeat itself and it seems a little faster with every new time through) that would destroy the Al Qaeda ISIS of my blog idea.

What I’m getting at in a roundabout and allegorically political way is that instead of writing about Sean and Ariana’s progress on Annie Baker’s “The Flick”, of which they made tons, I am writing about the time something Cay said to me made me seriously consider quitting acting. The allegorical “bomb” (or Patriot Cruise missile) in this case was an exchange that took place between Cay and one of the new members of our class.

Just for fun, here's a photo of Sean and Ariana working on The Flick.

Just for fun, here’s a photo of Sean and Ariana working on The Flick.

Cay: “You have incredible instincts and raw talent, I’m just not convinced of how badly you want to do this.”

Actor: “Do what?”

Cay: “Pursue acting.”

I felt the sting of those words resonate in me, and through the mysterious muck and mire of memory my own encounter with Cay was dredged up.

I had been studying at the studio for several months while working two jobs, sleeping 4 hours a night, and keeping class fairly low on my priority list, somewhere just below laundry and just above enjoying my life. I would come to class overworked and underprepared and although I thought I was doing a convincing job of looking like I had my shit together, Cay saw otherwise.

Here is a small bit from a personal journal entry that I made about that time:

I had a rough time in acting class today. Cay thinks I have a block or an emotional filter between me and the characters I portray, and I am inclined to agree. I thought perhaps it was a new development, but now I see it has been present for a long time. She would like me to work on being in touch with myself and taking more time to connect with the material.

It was during this time that Cay did me the favor of making me question my entire life path. I don’t quite remember what I was working on, though Seminar with Laura sounds right, but I do remember sitting under the hot stage lights in front of class feeling embarrassed about a wonky rehearsal, and the glint of the light off of Cay’s glasses as she said “Tim, are you sure you want to be an actor?” My roommate this morning told me a story about how her mother, a therapist, now doesn’t hesitate to ask difficult clients if they are sure they want to be there. And why not? Sitting in a room for an hour with someone who truly doesn’t want to be there is a waste of their time and of hers. Likewise, my constant lack of focus and preparedness in Cay’s class was wasting both her time and my own.

And here’s the thing: I was PISSED. I vented to my scene partner, my family, and my friends about how my teacher, the person who was supposed to protect my ego and make me feel safe, ME ME ME ME ME! had fundamentally underminded and attacked my life pursuit.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

It was ego, pure and simple. Ego (see this post from last year) rears his head in surprising and terrible ways and that week he was on the warpath.

My whole life nobody had ever done me that favor. My parents, incredibly supportive, never questioned it when I told them I wanted to go to Theatre school. My college didn’t question my desire to be there (though I wish I had questioned their questionable student loan practices a little more thoroughly). Directors, fellow artists, friends, nobody had ever said anything like that to me, and thank god they hadn’t; it wasn’t their place. But it was Cay’s place in that time and with her position, and I dwelled on it for months.

And what answer did I find? I don’t know if there is an answer other than to say that this is my 25th blog post having held the student blogger position for almost a full year (again, not explicitly weekly). I’ve had the opportunity to interview inspirational artists like Melissa Smith and Mark Alan Gordon. I finished my second full length play a month and a half ago and it’s not totally disgusting. In October I am performing in an adaptation of Woyzeck at the Secret Theatre  and helping my roommate with preproduction on her feature film. I’ve made incredible friends, beautiful memories, and I’m feeding myself and paying for my bedroom in Sunnyside without killing myself at two jobs.

To the actor who Cay questioned I would say this: I don’t know what your answer is, and neither does anyone for that matter, but I promise the day will come when you won’t be afraid of that question anymore.