They want me to fall
Fall from the top
They want me to drop
They want me to stop
They want me to go
I’m already gone
The shit that I’m on
I’m already home…
I’m Already Home
I was 22 working at a dinner theater in Upstate NY. Neil Simon. My first pro role and I remember I looked at the bios of the cast, I read all the names of my castmates, their credits: Performed On Broadway with “Nicol Williamson,” “Capital Rep,” “Arena Stage,” and I dreamt of my credits in the making. I dreamt of my life… of the kid in a show with me reading my bio dreaming too.
“I’m a work of art
A Warhol already.”
But then it hit me. We were in a dinner theater. And these guys were miserable and I worshipped them coming up from NYC in their beat up Supra. Hanging out at the local bar beyond hours. And I was like… maybe… maybe something is wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t dream of working on Broadway with British actors and then at a snack theater in NY… maybe there was another way…
“They want me to go, don’t they know I’m gone-
Only time it’s exciting is when they mention it’s Sean”
I remember my first pay check at the Pearl in NYC. And saying hmm.
I remember working horrible shows at regional theaters I had dreamed of performing at. Places my heroes performed at… I remember seeing work at the temples and realizing that they hated poor people. Unless rich people were making them speak. I realized they were more than happy to ignore my family, my background… or dress it up in Irish or Brit accents with RSC actors and say- “hey see we know people are poor, they’re the ones who curse!”
And thinking, these are the people I revered. What did Mamet say (he stole the shit anyway): “Didn’t you say these people were fools a day ago? Why do you want their good opinion now? Do you want the good opinion of fools?”
I remember my first week of grad school A guest teacher from NY- hot off a Manhattan Theatre Club run… asking “so where did you guys all come from what did you study” and the names got rattled off-
“I went to Yale.”
And hell if I didn’t feel shame. And I spent my first year blasting Jay Z in private- because like i WAS 12 I loved that he had swag and i loved that his name was Shawn- and so every time he called himself out or praised him, I took it.
“Fresh out of the Frying Pan
Into the Fryer
Fly-er than the piece of paper bearing my name…”
I remember every fool who said why would you want to leave NY. What kind of artist community are you going to find? I remember how insulted when I said that I the last people i needed to know were artists. When I tried to explain that the theater seemed in its way to not care about the world i saw: messy, diverse, funny, schizophrenic, magical in mundane moments if not stage directions… I wanted to live places and make art about everybody. I wanted to put unheard on spot. But I also wanted to do it on a huge level on the level of my heroes. I’m talking…
Churchill (Caryl, not Winston)
The past two years a group of artists, friends and more took a big risk on me. They moved, stayed, committed to live in Iowa. Because they believed we could make something special. And we did. We made something I’m as proud of as anything I’ve ever done. I don’t even know what it is: music, rapping, sock puppets, improvisation, docudrama and some of the bravest break the fourth wall and just tell you what I’m thinking not as an actor but as a human being performances I’ve seen on stage…
And you won’t see it at Roundabout Underground. It ain’t coming to the Goodman (and God, as far as the Guthrie is going you’ll see talking British dogs before anything about race or class there). But fuck if I’d ever stop and say it shouldn’t be there. Or that it was less important. Or less necessary. Or less life changing- at the very least for me. And my actors and my team.
It’s a moment where you know you built some shit.
To the kids at NWMSU. At SWMS. Tate Alternative High School. Idaho Juvenile Detention Center. St. Gabe’s. Metro High.
To the artists. Martin. Jenn. Kristy. Tim. Barrington. Courtney. Greg. Jenny. Maylan. Matt. Courtney SW. Maria. Mark. Danielle.
To those theater blog loving mavens.
Slaybaugh and more.
I share only because I think it is one of the things we talk about so much. Finding a true moment. In the mess of life. In the whatever of “Theater” capital T.
Shit’s changed- capital T theater doesn’t need us. But the world does. The are aching for their stories to be told. They are aching to see even a bit of themself up there. To recognize not only that they exist. But that they are heard. Stop waiting for the selection committee to give you gifts. You NEED TO START HANDING THEM OUT YOURSELF.