Monday, September 26, 2011

Circuit-riding Actor

I would love to live in a smallish rural town--say, Missoula, or Bend, or Waitsfield, or Georgetown, Grand Exuma--a place in which I could feel physically and mentally rooted.  I grew up in the outdoors, working and playing--mending barbed wire fences, shoveling horse manure, skiing, skinny dipping--and in small communities, in which neighbors know too much about one another (or so they think, ready to treat gossip as gospel).  About the people in such places:  I miss their fewer veneers of social polish; their inability to hide what they're thinking, for good or bad.  Delight and contempt flash more readily in personal interactions in the small town's I've known before than in the cities I tend to spend most of my time in now.  Small towns are more Shakespearean than you know (and occasionally Jacobian.)

Unfortunately, being primarily a stage actor, in the early years of my career, I don't have the option not to live in a city.  It would take fame, fortune, and a private jet to make possible the commute from Missoula or Bend.  But, to my quiet surprise, being a circuit-riding, regional stage actor is bringing me back to rural communities for short stretches of five or eight weeks in duration: Durant, Oklahoma; Middletown, Virginia, Columbus, Georgia, and wherever I go next.  I'm satisfied to rediscover what is up out here, beyond the cultural radar, for good and bad--e.g., the denizens at Denny's after midnight--when I go there to review lines and blocking--can scare the b'jesus out of me, though there's nothing warmer than the smile of a young waitress on the night shift who, bored with the old faces, is delighted to meet a new one, and one with a mouth, ready to talk.

I have many, many thoughts about the experience of doing theater (or any kind of art) in the slow to medium-slow lanes of America, with the heavy star traffic visibly zooming by in the fast lane....

1 comment:

suzy vitello said...

Ah. You are, for me, describing the road not taken. Lovely.