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Retiring from the Stage 

I’ve been wanting to share something for a while now. I’m retiring from stage management and theatrical production. I feel compelled to share my story because I want to be very clear about it and show that people aren’t alone. 

I’ve been an artist my whole life. My first regular gig was in 2005- I was 10 years old. I was also a kid that was an overachiever. I constantly pushed myself to be excellent in the quality of my work and my professionalism at school, at rehearsal, and everywhere. Each show was for accolades, accomplishments, and added to my experience. I really loved what I was doing. I loved the groups I was performing with, I loved learning new things, I loved singing so SO much. 

Since 2014, I have been a professional performer, stage manager, and even an executive at a theatre non-profit organization. I remember my time as a student and working professional where I really pushed myself. I was working my gigs, a day job, and studying for two degrees. My days typically started at 6:45 AM and ended at around 10:00 PM at a rehearsal. Usually, this didn’t include time for homework, hygiene, and food. Regularly pulling 14+ hour days 7 days a week ended up being my normal. I was awarded accolades and felt really successful at first. Keeping up this pace and finding balance was really difficult. 

People kept telling me that I could do it because I was tenacious and talented. The guiding principle was that “Diamonds are formed under heat and pressure” As a student, I felt empowered to keep up my balanced energy and build my future in this career. I was realistic and thought I could work during the day, rehearse in the evenings, and rest REALLY hard at night. I thought that the price of having an were those long hours of working, chasing gigs, and keeping everything organized. It was exhausting, but it felt satisfying like getting a good workout does. I was constantly bone tired and poor, but happy. 

After several years of living my life at that speed, I started to notice some things suffering. My relationships with friends and family suffered. My mental, spiritual, and physical health were in decline. I was moving so fast, but I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going. I noticed that I was bone tired, damaged, and unhappy. The price I was paying was too steep and my feeling of satisfaction was fading. 

In 2020, I took my foot off the gas pedal as the entertainment world came to a screeching halt. It was a moment where the stage managers of the world and the theatrical community really took pause and took stock of where we were as far as equitable pay, work culture, and creating opportunities for diversity. I met so many awesome people in BIPOC affinity spaces, Diversity & Inclusion meetings, and anti-Racist theatre courses. I had the opportunity to talk to people across the industry that told me about their lives, their careers, and their experiences. That was so awesome! They gave me the empowerment to chase my dreams, but were taking notice that people with budding careers had to be very careful to balance what they WANTED to do versus what they COULD do. I got the impression that a career on national tours and regional houses were not for the faint of heart. These people were ALL in and INSANELY talented. 

I reflected and realized that the world of entertainment might be a tad too fast paced for even me. I really enjoyed the community aspect of putting on shows, so I delved deep into community theatre. Even amid a pandemic, our focus was to tell stories, get together, and show up for each other. I felt more like a person building community than a laborer establishing a professional network. That was great. I was happy, but still a little out of balance. Capitalism demanded I pretend that being a little out of balance was acceptable over being totally off-track. 

I worked hard to create balance despite the demands of capitalism. I had to get my physical and mental health back on track. In working on those things, I realized that I was constantly working at a deficit. I was actively ignoring what my mind and body needed. Especially as I shifted from starting this career in my late teens and hitting my late twenties, I gained some perspective about what was sustainable. Working in this hustle-and-grind pace with a deficit of energy was not sustainable. I risked chronic burn-out, illness, injury, and being disconnected from my family and friends. 

I worked hard in therapy to define what my dream was. In reality, without thinking of my career, the dream was to have my own place, a supportive partner, and (maybe) a pampered dog or two. 

I met my partner in 2021 and we’ve been making huge progress in our careers and establishing the foundations for our family. In 2022, I took a step back from my arts career to focus on that establishment. I’ve spent a lot more time with my family and friends. I think I achieved a better semblance of balance between working, resting, and enjoying. I’m not spread so thin. I don’t feel bone tired- even though I’m working as hard as ever. I reinvested my energy and I have never been happier and more connected. 

I couldn’t have dreamed of finding such immense satisfaction of living simply. I, like every other millennial adult, am afraid of what the future has for me but I have never been more confident to face it with the love of my family, my friends, and my partner. My dream is to create a happy, healthy home. Some people in my field might see this as a “downgrade” or as “giving up” but, I don’t see anything but beauty. It’s beautiful to want a family life. It’s beautiful to want to enjoy the moments you can with the people you love. It’s incredibly satisfying to focus on being someone rather than doing something. 

I’m incredibly grateful to have had a career in the arts. I cherish every moment deeply. I am beyond grateful to everyone I’ve met in this field. I excitedly transfer my skills into my work. After all, who better to think quickly on their feet and keep things organized for a customer than a stage manager? I still sing as often as I want to! However, I’ve discovered there’s more to life than my shiny arts career. I think this is where I have to put that down. 

I’m not sure if I will return to the stage. I’m sure that I’ll miss the rehearsal room. I’m confident that if I want to return, I can brush off my skills and re-join the party. I don’t want to stray far from my community, so I want to focus on being a supporter of the arts. I’ve had quite the time slowly adjusting to being seated in the house instead of at the booth or behind the curtain. 

I’m very happy and grateful to the arts communities that have touched my life. I’ll always be an artist and advocate for artists’ rights as laborers and global citizens. The arts are vital to keeping our humanity present in society. To keep myself going, I need to focus on chasing my dream and staying balanced. 

Thank you for reading my story. I will be turning my website into a different kind of space with an archive of my arts career. Life is big, beautiful, and worth fighting for. 

Carrie Fisher once said "I don't want my life to imitate art, I want my life to BE art." 

Retiring from Stage: Text
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