In Your Life

Think for a moment about the things in your life you are most passionate about.

C’mon, just do it, Jesus, I don’t ask for much.

All right. You could probably make a short list of things that you really, really love. And if I told you to remove your spouse, dearest friends and family, the list would probably be only maybe three things.

For me, at the top of that list would be acting in the theater. Producing in the theater and making music would also be in the top five, but I’m gonna concentrate just on the thing I’ve most dedicated my life to, acting. I spent three years after high school studying and performing. I’ve described these years before, but to give you just a small glimpse of what it was like consider the following; we had a handbell choir that met in people’s apartments from 1 to 5 in the morning, the treble bells would nap while the bass bells practiced and vice versa. We had to meet at that time because every single other hour of the day was full of either performances or rehearsals.

I once lost 35 pounds in four weeks in order to play a character I loved, and I would do it again if it were necessary. This past summer I was cast in two plays at the same time, and I still auditioned for a third because I loved the part. I did two tours lasting *months* where I was napping on the floor of the dressing rooms before the shows because we drove all night to make the next gig.

I’m not the world’s greatest actor, I’m a blue collar guy and I’m totally dedicated to getting the job done. I think there are probably actors out there who are *insane*, who live by the craft, who are only happy when they are performing. However, I love it, and I don’t come by it easily. My father wasn’t an actor, I wasn’t given an easy route because of family connections or fantastic looks. I can say that I have dedicated myself to the study of the craft, that it is one of the two or three disciplines that I take most seriously.

That being said, I have spoken out against the the theater world, the same way I’m sure you have bitched about the thing you love. I’ve criticized American theater at times. Because I love it, and in order to have a leg to stand on, you must first love something and then you must criticize it, and then you learn. My favorite songs, my favorite performances on screen, my favorite singers, all of these have, at one time or another, fallen short upon repeated experiences, because of who I was when I was listening that time. And then I discovered what was wrong with *me*, why I misunderstood the art or the artist, and I fell in love again.

(I really do believe this. I think you can’t really talk shit unless you love something. My friend Mac is the master of not sweating stuff he doesn’t care very much about and then unleashing when something precious to him is fucked with. If I tell you that someone’s poetry isn’t good or someone’s improv doesn’t live up to expectations, you should ignore the *hell* out of me.)

(The also accounts for why we can complain about our family members but we get pissed off when anyone else does. I can talk shit about Ian, but the second you do, I’ll jump down your throat.)

(Y’know, speaking of people who criticize stuff they don’t like anyway. You’re gonna listen to a guy criticize theater when he’s already admitted he hates the *chairs*?)

Now, I have dedicated my life to the craft of acting, and I’d be willing to guess that you’ve dedicated yourself to something. Even if it’s *comfort*, there is something in your life that you have spent a little bit of time every single day trying to achieve.

If I was nominated for a Tony, let’s say, and it was between me and another person, and that person started telling everyone that, because of my criticism of American theater, because I have considered moving out of New York, because I have spoken out against the unions on occasion, then I don’t deserve the Tony… I’d be flabbergasted. I’d be speechless. It wouldn’t be fair for *anyone* to say that about me, unless this person had been through everything I’ve been through and more.

But let’s say the guy who was telling everyone this was just a pretty boy thug who actually had done a really bad job in a play, but he was nominated because, let’s say, the play was particularly hard and he had managed to at least say all of his lines in order. Or, he was nominated because at one of the performances someone rushed the stage and attacked him but he survived it, and now people think that if he’s in a show, the rest of the cast will be safe from future attacks. In fact he has been offered several jobs because producers think he can fight possible attacks from the audience, without considering the fact that the attacks happened only once this guy got on stage because people hate him so damn much.

And if he was just this guy who got in the play because his dad was a producer, he was actually a baseball player who had never spoken out for or against American theater because he had never really cared. He had gotten a chance to do a couple of national tours, the way I did, but he didn’t do them because being on the road is just hard…

You’ve got something you’re dedicated to, right? You have tried hard to succeed in your life, and you’ve done the dirty work, right? You would be appalled if someone questioned my dedication to the theater, despite the fact that I have testified against certain aspects of it, despite the fact that I have turned down shows because they were a bad idea with bad characters. You wouldn’t be fooled into thinking that critical thinking equals anti-theaterism, right?

Just in terms of *honor*, wouldn’t you vote for me?