"Out of the Room"

It has been four years since the world shut down because of Covid-19. It has felt like so much longer.

I was so lucky to jump right back into work during "hot vax summer," when variants felt like they couldn't touch you and the world felt like it was going back to normal. (Normal...while you swab your nose with a stick every three days to make sure you were still a superhero, stealthily avoiding the virus that brought the world to a standstill.) I was so lucky to make the decision to step away from teaching and be caught by a breadth of work that was waiting for me. The Woman in Black was BACK! I was Associate Director for Jackson Gay on the World Premiere of WHEN HARRY MET REHAB (to get it's off-broadway run this Fall at the Signature Theatre!). I was on a plane twice a week, my roommates were helping me take care of my dog, and I remembered what it felt like to be an expert. To be valued. To be WORKING.

And then the variants returned. Shows were canceled. The world was again growing a little weary of returning to public spaces. Perhaps they had grown accustomed to streaming at home. Or they wanted to be cautious around the holidays. Whatever the reason, it was clear that audiences were down from pre-pandemic eras, and I was worried about the artists who had even less job opportunities than before.   

Fast forward a couple of years, here I am, taking a sabbatical of undetermined length from directing, working at a talent agency in Chicago on the Chicago on-camera and voiceover team. I have committed my days to being a part of finding work for actors. And at times it has felt very rewarding. 

You know--I never spent much time around actors who were not employed. The majority of time I spent with actors was in the room. A talent agent once told me that the worst day to reach out to an actor is the day after they were on set. But the thing! It happened and it was great! YOU were great! Why is it the worst day? I suppose we can all guess. 

Even though I'm employed, I'm also finding myself to be "out of the room." Which, I suppose, is where a lot of actors find themselves. They (hopefully) have the flexible day job they can skip out on for a booking. While I've been "out of the room," I've found my way into ballet class, I've found my way into an amazing choir, and I've found myself spending quality time with people I love. I've also found myself...not in The Room. Not in The Room where I am keenly observing actors and working with them to bring a story to the stage. Not in The Room where I am being strategic and making decisions with a group of humans that see me as their team leader.  Not in The Room where I am finding constant motivation to be excellent because I see the powerful impact I am making within the room. 

Being "out of the room" can be such a hard place to find yourself, and this blog post is not going to give you a strategic way to make it not hard. I suppose this blog post is a way to share that I see you. I hear you. It is important to me that my fellow artists succeed and achieve their goals, because when they do, it helps pull me forward in my own work. It's important to me to make lasting and transformational change in this world. Do I need to be "in the room" to do it? Or can it be done..."Out of the Room"?


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