Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Artistic resistance is a funny thing.  It is that fear which begins to grip you, that tells you what you really want to be doing is watching Netflix instead of working on that THING.   That project.  That one little corner of the universe that is so uniquely yours that no other person on the planet can fill it.

I have been acting since 1989.  A French class was full, and I got moved into drama class.  A girl failed in the whole No Pass/No Play era and I was her replacement in the play. Cue a decade of magnet schools, college majors, and shows in NYC.

But then I moved to Los Angeles and I got this thing Bruce Campbell refers to as "The Spores".  That thing I've only found in Los Angeles where you are told over and over and over again that things start happening when you finally decide you don't want them anymore, so you better not want that film career quickly so that you can finally start getting cast.  So you spend a lot of time trying to convince yourself you don't want to be an actor.  Going to the beach and checking out new restaurants and shops and clubs.  And it works.  You start getting auditions and you meet them with an eye roll instead of a cheer.  You get cast, and you hate being on set.

Earlier this year, I realized that I hate film and television acting.  I mean, with a PASSION.  I'd get parts and despise every minute of it… because I didn't know, in my bones, what I was doing.  Acting on film is basically just doing a cold reading.  You spend all year trying to get a gig, they put you in front of the camera and you get to say, "Would you like wine with dinner?"  It sucks.  So, I decided not to do it anymore.

But then, a few months later, I remembered the only reason why I wanted to do film and television was to have enough of a stable income that I could act on stage.  And suddenly, with this whole writing thing, I realized I have the stable income… I could act on stage as much as I want…

And it is terrifying. 

The theater in Los Angeles is like community theater.  No one does it because they love it.  They do it in the hope an agent will see their work, or a film director will fall in love with them.  Tennessee Williams is a CD showcase.  But as I traveled the world this year, I remembered that everywhere else on the globe, being on stage is the end game, not the consolation prize.

So this summer, I spent nine hours a day, three days a week, for five weeks out in the middle of this forest studying Shakespeare and Alexandar Technique and Laban and scansion and Elizabethan rhetoric.  And I realized I'm really good at acting on stage when I stop apologizing for the fact I'm not any good on film.
Taking this shift, this leap, and only doing theater for theater's sake… I have been reminded of its transformative power, of the way we actors can touch lives and change people's perceptions of the world, even better than a newspaper article or pie chart of statistics or some guy yelling at you on talk radio.  I did a reading the other day and a little old woman got up from her walker to stop me on my rush out to squeeze my hands and tell me I was wonderful.  And knowing the effort it took for her to come down to the theater, how we were her biggest source of entertainment that day, what it took for her to support the arts and she was there… it just reminded me that theater for theater's sake is important.  The creative cesspool of Los Angeles is not the world.  There are people who are searching for this artistic "more" and it is alive and powerful.

And I haven't felt this alive or powerful on stage in years.  I was talking to a friend about it and he said, "It is nice to do theater that you don't have to apologize for afterwards."

I feel like have been apologizing for a long time.  My feet were in two different worlds and neither was getting what it needed.  So, now my feet are firmly planted and it is terrifying to step out boldly again.  But I feel like a loggerhead turtle who knows how to find that beach where she was born.  This is my beach.  It is where I am called.  And, yes, the resistance is still there.   I have a class tonight with an amazing group of artists who are sitting down to tear apart Henry VI just for fun, and the resistance says, "Maybe you should stay at home and… work… clean your house… watching some Netflix… who needs people..."

But I'm not listening anymore.


  1. 'ATTA GIRL, KATIE! And guess where else they do theatre (good theatre, too!) because they love it....Seattle.

    1. You have no idea how much I am longing for the Seattle scene! Actual Equity theaters! Shakespeare! I just... I... Yeah.