Saturday, 29 September 2012

Dramatic Embarrassment

In yesterday's blog, I touched on the subject of telling people that you're an actor. As with any job, if you enjoy what you do then you should be proud to tell people. As soon as someone asks you what it is you do with your time, you should feel the need to shout it from the rooftops. So why, when people ask me what I do, do I feel embarrassed about this silly job I've entered into?

One worry I have when someone asks about my so-called profession is that I'll come off as the type of irritating drama queen that can clear a bar in seconds. I have an almost irrational fear that I'll somehow live up to the horrific stereotype that people have of actors so instead I choose to play down my career choice so much that I'm in danger of convincing them I'm not really an actor at all. Instead of being loud and proud, I'd prefer to make it seem like my job is some sort of dirty secret. And then there's the issue of actually telling people you've chosen to become an actor. Telling someone that I'm a performer feels very much like being a five year old saying they're going to be a princess or prime minister or an astronaut when they grow up. Except I haven't grown up and I'm still holding on to a dream that most people gave up on over 20 years ago. Surely we shuold be congratulated for foolishly clinging on to our dreams and pursuing them regardless of whether it's really a particularly good idea? But instead we worry that we'll get that pitying look that says "Of course you're an actor sweetie. Just like everyone else. See you in the dole queue in a week, love."

But why do we think people will consider us foolish. Is it because other people do proper jobs? They save lives, they teach us things, they sort out our taxes and they serve us crisps at 2am. These people do important things while I'm stuck wondering whether I'm best to apply for the role of a squirrel or a rabbit in an upcoming play. But surely our use is just as important. When those life saving, people teaching, tax sorting, wonderful crisp selling people need a break they'll often switch on the TV or go to the cinema or, if they're feeling particularly brave and flush, they'll visit the theatre. They'll look to the likes of us to entertain them and help us take their mind off things. We'll take them to somewhere different for just a little while. Maybe we'll make them laugh. Maybe we'll make them think. Or maybe we'll just make them feel grateful that they themselves aren't an actor. Whatever we make them feel, why should we feel embarrassed about it? Yes, our job might consist of us pretending to be a horse. Yes, we'll sometimes find ourselves dancing around a decrepit theatre in the style of an ancient devil. But our position in the world is just as valid as everyone else's so it's time for stop the embarrassment and be proud of what we do. Just don't ask me what I do for a living...

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