I Dreamed a Dream

When I was in college, I studied abroad in Athens. One day in Greek language class we were practicing vocabulary words, and we all had to say what we wanted to be our profession. I said “actress.” My dad used to tease me that I could be a “doctor on TV” because I loved science, but was very bad at it, and I liked theater and acting. I really wanted to go live in Ashland, OR, and work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I never really knew what I wanted to do.

I really wanted to make theater, but I never settled on one specific role in there, or goal. I wanted to make theater, or work at a theater, and work with my friends, but also work with cool artists. I started out working at a box office and stage managing shows and worked as a business manager for a small theater part-time. It was really fun. I was really broke. So I took a day job with health benefits. I still worked on shows at night, but I completely stopped acting. Eventually, I stopped doing theater completely. Then I went to graduate school for arts administration, thinking that would be a creative career for someone who didn’t want to be in rehearsal all the time, subsidizing a career in stage management with a day job I didn’t like.

Anyway, here I am 5 years later. I worry that I don’t have a dream, or that my dream is really not a dream at all, but rather some kind of functional self-preservation thing that I am doing because I like to buy shoes and go on vacation more than I like to get yelled at by directors and doing show laundry that smells like weed and sweat. I knew that I was never going to be a professional actress when I was 22–I can’t sing and I look terrible on camera (I was even too embarrassed to get head shots, and I look like a freaky monster on film). But performing was so fun, and so easy. Stage managing was harder, but I still got to be in the room, to make suggestions and observations, and to see a lot of beautiful work. It seemed like a good compromise. In a theater scene where nobody got paid, I would get paid a couple hundred dollars. One stipend paid for my vacation to see my boyfriend who was teaching summer camp for gifted kids in upstate New York. But it wasn’t a living, and unless I stopped working with the artists I liked, it never would be.

So arts administration was my new dream, and graduate school was my way to escape Chicago and find a place that was “more serious.” I love arts administration, in contexts where I am not treated like I am a dumb idiot. It’s fun, and challenging, and I think I’m good at it. Also, I’m not working in theater anymore, I’m working in dance, and services for artists. So is this really my dream?

I ask not because of the Les Mis song that I have been listening to nonstop for two weeks, but because I just watched Sleepwalk With Me which I loved, which is a movie about a comedian trying to launch his comedy career while his relationship falls apart and he develops a serious sleep disorder. It’s wonderful, and available on Netflix streaming. It’s a movie about being an artist, and sacrificing (not in a good way) for his art. It was sad and funny, and honest. When I see movies, plays, art, literature that tackles this subject of why artists create, I get a little sad. Sometimes I think I need a new dream, or that I need to just think of having a dream as more of a goal for having a complete life (you know, a job and a boyfriend or maybe a family,  a house, a hobby, travel, a pet, whatever).

Oof, this is weirdly personal. But I think it’s important for me to think about it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Larkin Callaghan

Global Health & International Development: Strategy and Communications

Audience Development Specialists

Audience development beyond arts marketing

tales of work, unemployment and those activities in between


the subjective perspective of an analytical optimist

Steve Blank

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Onward and Upward - Keeping an eye on the nonprofit sector, from the bottom up

Keeping an eye on the nonprofit sector, from the bottom up

Brad Lichtenstein's blog

Behind the scenes of What We Got: DJ Spooky's Journey to the Commons

All Our Tragic

By Sean Graney. 32 Greek tragedies adapted into 1 play.

Rebecca Makes Plays

from scratch. all the time.

%d bloggers like this: