The line between entertainment and journalism has long been a thin one, but what I’ve done to it this summer makes it downright invisible. Good thing I’m not a real journalist. Or entertainer.
OK, so I suppose by definition, I am a journalist of sorts, but the impact I have logging the goings-on of bluegrass bands and plein-air painters is hardly the stuff of Pulitzers and Press Club dinners. And though I’m acting in a local production of Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” this summer – Fridays at Durango Arts Center – that doesn’t make me any more of an actor than you. Or does it?
I can’t be the only one who has sat through many a quality, local theatrical production with a bit of envy. Who hasn’t, secretly or otherwise, envisioned themselves on that stage? It’s not like watching a movie or TV; when the stage is right in front of you, the possibility of seeing yourself on it is far more attainable. It’s that way with a book, too. Seems easy enough to sit down and write a murder mystery or two in your spare time, right?
At least, that’s how it was for me. So for once, instead of saying “I should do that,” I said “I’m doing that.” Not actually having time for a novel – I write for a living, after all – I auditioned, got the part, and we just finished our fifth of nine performances Friday night.
Now, here’s where the twain meet. At my day job, I write about that which I cannot do, be it music, painting or dance. I can play some piano, do a bit of doodling and even cut an occasional rug, but none is something for which I’d ever sell a ticket. So why chase the acting bug?
First, it’s not like I’m doing Hal Holbrook’s one-man Mark Twain routine. The support and help I’ve gotten from my fellow actors, whose names I will shamelessly drop here – Tiffany Silva, Stephen Bowers, Donna Dominick, Sarah Syverson, Jessica Fairchild and Geoff Johnson, make it a lot easier. And because they are good at acting, being actors and all, they more than cover for my shortcomings. At least, I haven’t heard any actual boos yet, so I can only assume we’re still appeasing the audiences.
I also could probably pawn off legitimacy as a reason for my foray onto the boards. Surely it adds to my cred as a critic if I can claim to have done that which I say others can’t. The problem with that is, I’m less of a critic than I am an actor, and I never claimed to be either. By that logic, it would behoove me to sit in a set or two with the Dallas Symphony before the next Music in the Mountains rolls around. I think it takes more than a two-minute monologue to get a seat in one of those chairs.
What I want to express most is how damn pleased I am with myself for actually doing this. Yes, it’s a community theater production that has even less cultural significance than it did when Simon penned it 45 years ago. But for those same 45 years (he wrote it two weeks before I was born), I’ve wanted to be an actor, and for whatever reasons, I didn’t until now. I would normally never recommend that anyone be anything like me, and for legal purposes, I’m not doing so now, either. But if my advice means anything, find something preposterous to do and do it. You won’t be sorry.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a novel to write.