Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Skill Set... not what they're looking for
I have been putting in some long hours at the theater lately. We are in tech this week for Gem of the Ocean. It's a production that has had a few bumps, there was a sick child so we lost the stage manager, sick mother, lost an actor, family death so actor missed some rehearsal. We have a new stage manager who has never done this before, our assistant stage managers are 14 year old girls, new actor learning his lines two weeks before the show, one actor still reading her lines from the book. The list goes on. The props are endless and hard to find. There was living room furniture to find, kitchen furniture, a table that has to hold a 6'2" man that has died, a cast iron wood stove-heavy! They eat, they drink, they need guns- so hard to find. But this is my wheel house, I am good at this.
Through all of it, the director keeps chanting his mantra: adapt and overcome. This phrase has stuck in my head. The kindness and understanding of the monks has stayed in my head. And so I am trying to practice these things. I have had my moments, immature and negative comments, the producer was unhappy with me for a minute because I have no filter anymore, my thoughts pour out of my mouth and my eyes before I know it. I'm tired.
Mostly I am extremely frustrated with my situation. I LOVE doing theater. I love making art. Neither of them pay me for the hours I put in. I mean, it is beyond reason how little money I make for the labor and hard work involved. Yesterday, I went and bought collard greens, apple juice for the whiskey bottles, because the actors didn't want the tea I brought the day before, searched for a fountain pen and a proper ink well, gathered things in my house, made a penal code book, typed a letter to Solomon, made an arrest warrant. Then I went to the theater, unloaded all the props, helped paint the set, helped move wall flats, set up the prop table, set all the props, dressed the set, painted more, swept the floor, plugged in the lamps, washed out the paint brushes and rollers, organized all of that for the volunteers for today. Forgot to eat all day. Came home, drank a beer, ate some pasta and went to bed at 7:30. Tonight is dress rehearsal. More painting today, more props......
I cried a lot yesterday. If I want to make art, I have to spend money. I don't have any. If I want to work in the theater, I have to take the tiny little checks they give me and listen to Gerry complain about how hard I work and how he pays a freelancer in one day what I make for working a couple of months on a show.
The worst part is, if I even wanted to get a "real" job, I have the most unusable skill set there is for "real" work. Here is what I can do well:
I can paint a room in about a second, I can find a rubber frog and make it look real, make a corn cob pipe smoke, create old love letters, create bloody rags from gunshot wounds, find amazing period props and furniture with only $400 to spend, make fake food..... I can make things look really damn good, I can do a lot of things that no one really needs done in a 9-5 job.
I can make pretty nice pottery. I can weave. I can knit. I can make jewelry.
I can nourish a family. I can clean a house, wash clothes, garden, cook three meals a day, wash dishes, shop for groceries, write thank you notes, help mend broken hearts, listen to job woes, solve problems other than my own, help friends when they need me, help family when they need me.
So how does a woman over fifty find her way in a world that doesn't pay an artist for their worth and doesn't hire a woman based on the skills she has developed in twenty years of taking care of a family.
I was just curiously looking at job postings and there was actually a job that said, "sexy young barista wanted". Of fuck! are you kidding me? how is this still going on! I did see one job for food prep that looked interesting, I can prep food. I could work for a maid service, I can do all that. How is it, I am smart and talented but I don't qualify for one damn job posting on the internet?
So the quandry. I have either got to suck it up and bust my ass for little pay, or apply to be a food prepper. My skill set does not fit any job description I have seen out there.........
My view most nights this week, the set is coming along......