30 May 2012

many hats

Although I like to identify as a theatre professional now (does it count as professional if you have yet to be paid?), I still find myself doing a lot of things that have nothing to do with theatre, for the sake of a paycheck.

Now, for example. I'm a composition tutor Monday - Thursday mornings, and I work in catering on the weekends. Neither of these qualifies as a full-time job (the tutoring gig is only for a few weeks), but they bring in reliable money utilizing my non-theatre skills, and so I'm happy to have them.

I suspect I will have these kinds of jobs, off and on, for most of my life.

Most of us do ('us' being defined as 'people who work in the arts'), from the prototypical actor/waiter to the much better paid theatrical lighting designer who also designs shows for U2 (yes, this guy actually exists, although I don't remember his name, and I think you could make an argument for rock concerts just being a noisier form of theatre anyway) to the poet who writes cards for Hallmark and the print artist who designs wallpaper.
Sometimes we end up doing things that have nothing to do with what we really want to go into (as in our actor/waiter example), and sometimes not. Sometimes a little variety is OK.

I, for example, wouldn't really mind picking up the occasional gig as a wedding coordinator (basically a stage manager for a bride), something that's been floating vaguely at the edge of my radar for awhile now and that I intend to research more seriously as my job-search net widens. I like the idea of working weddings, not necessarily because I'm a girl that goes gaga over weddings in general (although I have been known to indulge in the occasional Bridezillas marathon, at least before it went downhill and every single episode seemed to be about violent sociopaths), but because the sheer volume of fussy little details combined with enormous emotional investment sounds like a huge challenge, the kind of thing I'd love to jump into and do Right.

The fact that weddings do not generally take place onstage in a theatre doesn't really bother me. I'd be much  quicker to work as a wedding planner than, say, as a production assistant in a college theatre.
Because I just got out of college. I've had my fill of educational theatre and I want to work in the real world now. There's nothing wrong with college theatre, mind - I learned a ton there. But I don't want to do it anymore, at least for awhile. And, for me, that's perfectly fine.

Nobody does just one thing in their career, especially these days. I read somewhere recently (possibly U.S. News and World Report, but don't quote me) that my generation isn't expected to stay with any one company for more than 2 years or so, and our rate of switch from one industry to another is estimated at about once every five to eight years. (So much for consistency.)
But the experts are saying that, while this behavior is difficult for the older generation to adjust to, it's actually a good thing for the modern workplace. Because we're being expected to have a variety of skills and experience, a depth and breadth of knowledge that affords us maximum flexibility, and passions that can take us in several different angles. Apparently, for most of us (I can't really speak to the experience of people in medicine or engineering and the like; my research generally covers the humanities), being an 'expert' isn't cool anymore. Now we're meant to be Renaissance Men.

So, yeah. This is a long way of saying I'm looking at a greater variety of career possibilities today (although my dream job of calling shows for a huge in-house theatre company is still firmly ensconced at the top of my list; not to worry). Because a girl can never have too many hats, after all.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome!! And I've never heard that about our generation before.. but it's really consistent with what I've been noticing. (And, er, doing.) Glad to see someone championing change and variety:)


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