Monday 16 September 2013

To be or not to be?...What?......To be or not to be what?

That is definitely the question at present. I am in a state of, let's call it, crisis at the moment (always good to start with a bit of melodrama). Just between you and me, I am wondering whether performing is where my heart truly lies. Let me say before we get into this in more depth, this is not a fishing expedition. I don't need anyone to validate me or my ability to perform, that is not what this is about. This is about my happiness. Just because you are good at something does not mean that that thing must be the thing that defines you (or summat like that).

We performers are a sensitive lot, it is true. Most of us don't need to be praised constantly but, now and again, we do find that someone telling us we are doing an OK job to be just the ticket to get us out of a slump (this is not what I am looking for either). I know I go through the "is it time to give up and open a tea shop" feeling several times a year (sometimes when I actually have an acting job) but most of the time it lasts a few days, at most, and then I pull myself together and rock up to the next audition. Performers do not have the monopoly on this feeling, I imagine we all crave change in our lives from time to time. Postmen, builders, shop assistants even civil servants at some point will all think the grass is greener. Don't misunderstand me, I realise that for some people the grass really is greener and I know I am extremely lucky to have been doing something I love for so long. For me, it is the time between jobs that gets harder. Waiting for the next thing to come along can leave you in a state of limbo and, just like that, 6 months of your life have disappeared and you did nothing with it except wait (and watch Pointless - which in itself is not Pointless at all, e.g. My knowledge of the Glasgow underground system has grown exponentially because of this gem of a show). The incessant waiting is what I can't cope with this time.

But why now? Maybe it is something to do with turning 40 in April but I don't think it is that. I have no fear of this landmark age at all. It is just a number. It is, however, a milestone so maybe, subconsciously it is the thing that is fuelling this need to do something useful and positive with the rest of my life.

There is a video going around on YouTube at the moment of a concert Kristen Chenoweth did at the Hollywood Bowl (Elaine Paige also mentioned it on her radio show on Sunday) in which she invited a member of the audience on to the stage to sing "For Good" from Wicked with her. The woman, Sarah Horn, who went up happened to be a singing teacher (and a pretty darn good singer in her own right) and Kristen described her as "the real hero" and after they had sung she also said "that voice [Sarah's] is teaching our young people", and it got me thinking. There are worse things I could do with the rest of my life than help other people work out how best to use their voices. But is this selling myself short? Have I still got a few shows left in me?

The very fact I have to ask these questions suggests I do. No one wants to get to the end and wonder "what if?" I know I don't. Yes, life is easy right now (apart from the being brassic thing). I enjoy teaching the few people who come to me for help. I am totally free of stress for the first time in my life. But, and it is a huge but, is this what I really want for the next few years? I don't know, and while there is a shred of doubt I owe it to myself to keep trying until I honestly don't want to try anymore. I may well come to the conclusion a month from now, a year from now or ten years from now that moving on to something else is what I need but, as I am sufficiently unsure right now I can't quite bring myself to cut the proverbial strings. 

Not to be preachy, but, I know there are some of you out there who are in the same boat as me and we have to do a lot of soul-searching to find the answers we need, not necessarily the answers we want. What we want and what we need are two totally different things. Don't jump into (or out of) something you might live to regret without giving it plenty of thought (and then more thought on top of that thought). For some of you, moving on to pastures new is the right thing to do. However, if there is even a morsel of uncertainty that you are not ready to let go, you owe it to yourself to keep trying. I am pretty sure you, like me, don't want to end up at a point many, many years down the line thinking "what if?". Anyway here endeth the sermon. I apologise, I have got ever so serious recently. I will work on it!

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