This post is not about what you think. This post is about my regret that I insisted on pursuing playwriting instead of trying to get as many parts as possible in other people’s plays.
I’m sure Kevin Spacey isn’t the first artistic director who harassed his actors, but though I witnessed a lot of hanky panky during 20 years in small alternative theater, I don’t remember a lot of sexual harassment. And you know me: I’d remember and I probably would have blogged it to death whether somebody was stupid enough to try that on me or not. No. In small alternative theater, you are lucky if you are an artistic director who doesn’t have a day job; and if you need a day job and don’t have one, it’s probably because you have a spouse with a day job who won’t put up with your having fun all day AND fooling around. So, based on my experience as an actor in small theater, I feel that because I never felt like I had to suck up and toady as an actor, I was better able to be myself than I was as a playwright. As a playwright, I regret to say that at my professional level, wheeling and dealing included an excessive amount of toadying. Since toady is not my personality in any other aspect of my life, as a playwright I was not myself until I actually began rehearsing and performing one of my solo plays. I’m wondering now, however, how my toadying and faking out as a playwright might have tainted me as an actor and performer.
I’m thinking about this because of a specific negligent act by a film festival against all the filmmakers including me who submitted to the festival but not yet been screened. I am not a person who thrives on competition; I was raised in a family culture in which competitiveness was expected and so was a part of my upbringing. That is probably why rejection after rejection (including the 65 rejections of my novel), I nevertheless keep putting myself “out there.” However, not thriving on competition does not necessarily mean not willing to play hardball in an unfair situation. When I play hardball, in this case calling attention to the negligence and omission of a film festival that overnight (accidentally, they claim) awarded all of its submitters “Semi-finalist” status and not until approximately 12 hours later took the affirmative action of explaining what happened in an emailing to the submitters. In their explanation, they blamed the service provider who manages submissions and tried to tell us that that black is white, white is black, and “nothing has changed.”
While I’ve suffered through that kind of bullshit many times as a playwright hoping to get booked, I would yell and scream if I was a principle in a play and I would resign if I was merely supporting. As a middle class American housewife filmmaker who is so well set up and equipped that I only buy equipment every year and a half, who doesn’t need to even rent space and whose films are so inexpensive that I’ve broken the budget line on submission forms more than once, yelling and screaming at artistic directors, curators and venues is not enough. I am on a mission to persuade other artists that thinking they have to eat shit to get screened is like thinking it was okay for Kevin Spacey to tell those boys, “I hired you so now you owe me sex.” Not enough red flags on the planet for that bullshit.
If I am continuing to fake out the artworld in any way as a filmmaker, it is only because aging has mellowed me out and I can’t yell and scream as loud as I’m capable of.
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