Months ago, I wrote about the “emotional perils” of being in theater. I talked about how passionate I was about it and yet how excruciatingly exhausting it could be,waiting in the wings.
You invest so much of yourself and your time and yet the show itself (or at least the scenes you’re part of) can be so short and fleeting. You invest in workshops and lessons, sacrifice your downtime, lose time with your loved ones, rush after work to get to wherever rehearsals should be. Then, you begin to doubt yourself and your abilities… You begin to resent the situation and yourself even. You begin to want to quit (and I mean quitting when you’re not even ahead or anywhere close to the peak of your race).
This reminds me of college and how I spent most or all of my time with Ateneo Blue Repertory. It was only after graduating (and trying to figure out what to put in my resume), that I realized I could have and should have spread my wings more and gone in different directions or explored other avenues. I realize I might have been “limiting” myself by putting all my eggs in one basket—that I might have been boxing myself too much in the world of theater.
Thus, I began to explore myself and rediscover the things I loved doing or the things that interested me at least—going out, doing events (The Black Fleet), writing (via this blog), teaching children (I applied and actually almost accepted a teaching job). Instead, I joined the family company and set up a playroom for grieving children.
And so I asked myself, what happened to that? What am I still doing here and why am I still here? Why am I back where I started? Why am I still waiting in the wings? As I continued to wrack my brains for answers, I’d have moments of doubt, self-pity and angst even, thinking to myself:
“Maybe I’m still here because I’m just stubborn (I’m Taurus eh), and I hate the feeling of losing or falling short.”
“Perhaps I just want a taste of getting something I earned or worked really hard for. And while I’m still not getting it, here I am, frustratedly waiting in the wings.”
“Maybe I’m not really cut out for this. Maybe I’m not talented enough to make it. ”
“What if I’ve wasted all these years of my life, forcing it, when it’s not meant to happen? So… I slaved away in blueREP, went to London and back, for nothing?”
“What if directors give me roles out of pity? Or worse, because they just like me?”
“Why am I feeling this way? Didn’t I used to love doing this? Didn’t I do all of this before, without an ounce of worry or so much as a complaint?
I guess what makes all the difference now is that I’m not getting any younger. I feel myself getting older by the second, with daily worries about one’s career and wanting to get ahead. Time has become a commodity and I’m perpetually squeezing it dry. I’m always running, running, running and it feels like I haven’t accomplished much. And because I spend so much time, investing my heart and soul into theater, it’s become a little difficult to be sure of myself now—to be sure that what I’m doing with my time is actually leading me somewhere in life.
Call it a protracted quarter life crisis but you’re never quite sure. It’s not as easy as it used to be. It’s not easy at all, trying to keep your dreams, while confronting the realities of adult life. Am I supposed to put my dreams on hold or back in my pocket? Should I say goodbye to musings for now, and live life, as normal working people do?
Right now, I’m doing Peter Pan, my first production with Repertory Philippines (a dream come true in itself). I play a mermaid and am part of the ensemble cast. While I love being part of the ensemble and I think it’s an utter privilege being part of any company, it’s also a given (and I’m sure other actors would agree) that one dreams of getting that “big break” one day. We all yearn for that—the big break, that singular moment on stage, the culmination of one’s dreams and hard work.
I must admit (Please don’t judge me for feeling the way that I do) that there were moments during rehearsals that I felt quite dispensable and inconsequential, as if my presence (or absence) would not have made a difference. I know they say that the fact that your role exists means it plays at least some significance. But it was sheer insecurity, a piercing sense of self-doubt that kept telling me I was a disposable part of the cast.
Yesterday however, fate offered me a bit of respite—a moment of resolution and realization. I had a no-holds-barred, tell it like it is, “do it like a bandaid” conversation with my good friend and mentor, Missy Maramara. And it was then that I realized how SELFISH I had become. I’ve spent all this time, thinking external factors to be the cause of my theatrical “demise” when in truth, I’ve been a SELFISH, BRATTY LITTLE ACTOR, limiting myself by doing everything on the surface. I don’t allow people to access the real depth of Sab because I’m too caught up in my insecurities.
As another good friend tried to elaborate on why she thought I wasn’t getting the breaks I “deserved”, she said it was because I was “so insecure. And directors can see that”. It all made perfect sense now; everything I had learned from teachers of the past. It’s like something that’s been staring you right smack in the face, with you still missing it.
It’s all the same, what they all say and teach— that great actors share themselves generously and genuinely, without worrying too much about fluff or frill or whatever the audience might be thinking, liking or hating. It’s worrying about your character (no matter how big or seemingly insignificant it is) and claiming that character, that truly matters.
I’m still waiting in the wings, that’s for sure. But I’m done having a pity-party for myself. I am truly privileged to be in theater, to continue learning and growing, to momentarily doubt then believe again afterwards, to be playing any role–a role that’s part of the bigger and greater whole. It’s why I fell in love with theater in the first place. It’s the only place I know where people from all walks of life, come together, rehearse for months, take on big or small roles, all in passion and love for the wonderful world of theater.
It’s not so bad waiting in the wings after all,
especially when you know you have so much more to learn,
to give, to explore and to offer.
Waiting In the Wings Part 1: https://sabboudoir.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/waiting-in-the-wings/