The case for the hyphenated-artist

What a week! Tuesday was the benefit night for my theater company's June production. With the help of other company members I've been planning for two months: arranging for the space, bringing in artists to perform, promoting the shit out of it, and all the other details that go along with producing. It was a success - most importantly because it facilitated a raucous community-for-a-night, though many of the attendees had been strangers. I have to say that the feeling of making such an experience with and for people was deeply satisfying. 

Sweet Sixteen by Natalie Wilson

Sweet Sixteen by Natalie Wilson

I guess now I am a Producer. I was also a Director at the benefit, having directed the 10-minute play to your right, and even Ariel the Actor made an appearance - as the host and Emcee. I've always cringed from labeling myself as just one thing, referring to myself as a Director/Actor, or an Actor-Director, so now I'm REALLY confused. 

Performing arts people don't have jobs and careers in the traditional sense. When you're an engineer you're typically not an engineer/veterinarian. You go to school, you study and do well, and that good work is rewarded with the job you deserve (citation needed = knowing more people outside of the arts needed = could be major generalization). However for theater and other artistic pursuits, many many many people are going after the same pitifully small handful of opportunities. You can be the hardest working, and talented, AND good looking, but this doesn't guarantee a rise to the top of your field. It's all pretty fucking arbitrary. 

Well-meaning souls have told me that it's dangerous to wear too many hats: that if I spread my skills and time across multiple disciplines, I'll never become the master of any of them. But here's what I think today, based on my experiences and observations of others:


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If you are a film actor with no interest in theater, fuck theater! If you only want to work on Shakespeare, go forth! If someone told you to try directing because you're smart and visual - but you think directing is is a thankless role that takes years off your life - well, you are probably right. 

Your chances of success - whatever that means to you - are greater if you accept what you love and work hard for it (see this post). With a singular vision, you do have the chance of becoming a true master.



Why would you deny your instincts their interests? When you're not sure what you want to be, it's probably because the choice isn't up to you. You have to follow all these interests wholeheartedly, and trust where they lead you.

You may be a little rusty when you go on audition for the first time in a couple years because you were busy directing, but if you're drawn to the play and the character and you genuinely want to go for it, then fucking do it! Even if you don't get the part, you'll get perspective as an actor again: by studying a character, performing for a small audience, and getting in touch with what it's like to audition. A director who auditions realizes the best way to treat actors who audition for them. An actor who directs understands their role in the play-machine, and their part of the story. A stage manager who shifts to directing recognizes that chaotic theater magic can only manifest on a solid foundation of order. 

And maybe an Actor-Director, Theater Director/Film Actor, or whatever - followed these random opportunities cuz it was leading her toward producing something like this:

What are your thoughts and experiences? Comment away!