Lucretia JonesPosted September 21st, 2003 by Sean Williams
Our show opened tonight, I just got done writing the production Blog about it. It was warmly received and well attended.
I was asked afterwards which of the pieces in the show were my favorite, and which were my least favorite. It was only after answering the question that I discovered how much distance there is between the kind of artist I am now and the kind of artist I was ten years ago.
We start off as actors for a thousand different reasons, maybe we didn’t get enough attention as children, maybe we feel like telling stories means we don’t have to be ourselves, maybe we’re just handsome, whatever. But at a certain point you do the math and you realize, almost immediately, that you have to be famous in order to do the work you want.
It’s this bullshit mantra repeated a thousand times over and over. I want to get a sitcom so I can have enough money to run my regional theater. I want to be on Oprah’s book list so I can go back to writing short non-linear fiction and poetry. I need to shoot my indie film with pseudo-stars so I can get enough industry attention so I can work with real stars, so I can be famous enough to make my indy movies with the actors I want. It’s a kind of lying logic that we tell ourselves constantly, and meanwhile our actual art is getting made by these focus groups in our minds…
It’s this internal combustion engine who’s petrol is celebrity. It isn’t as important to be good as it is to appear to be good. What you do is just slightly less important than the number of people who know that you exist.
And that’s fine, I mean, it’s just that most people don’t know what to like, especially anymore. When you see some chick in the subway and she sounds better than Jewel, but she’s ugly and that’s why she’s in the subway, and you just think, ‘well, if she was as good as I think she is, someone would know about her, and since they don’t, I must be wrong.’ I understand that impulse. It’s just being lazy, and God knows, I aint got that on anyone.
But at some point, that pursuit started to kill me. I think it was when my first marriage died. It died because I forgot that famous people aren’t any better, and I started trying to get commercials and sitcoms so that I could open my regional theater. I started sprinting towards these lies.
Those lies poisoned me. It is a purely artificial way of looking at the world, and it invalidates the personal and small things that happen between me and my friends. I say John Hurley, I say Dan Kois, I say Mike Johnson, what does it mean to you? I get desperate and say “John Hurley, graduated from Syracuse, works all the time as a director…” and I’m already buying in to the poison, I’m drinking it down. Then it becomes, ‘works with APAC, with John Knutson, who is doing the Royal Shakespeare…” God, how do I make this man mean something to you? TV? Movie? Remember the write-up, remember the review, didn’t your friend have a friend with a friend and a friend’s friend who said they saw that he was with the guy who everyone…?
What the fuck ever. It’s all part of those lies. John Hurley, the man who gave me the experience I had tonight, along with Jordana and Mac. I don’t even want to tell you his name, I just want you to not know. I don’t want you near, even. I don’t want you to come.
I have a long, long list of people I haven’t told about this show. Every company I produced in Indivisible doesn’t know about this show, even though I get emails every day from these people about shows they’re in. No-one in any of my other casts knows about this show. I just can’t make this show an opportunity for the next thing. I would love it if someone else did, but I just can’t.
When I was asked which parts were my favorite, I described the scenes in which I got to play something true. They weren’t the funniest moments- actually I take that back, one of them is a really funny moment. But there are moments where the character exists not as a type or as an inside joke, but as a person.
And the lies of this industry have poisoned me so much that creating characters whose job is to create opportunity, even for other characters, is much harder for me. That actor in me died at the same time that my ability to work on my career did. I just want something this good, and if I have to make it from the ground up like we just did, then so be it.
I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to for this show. I didn’t work with anyone I didn’t want to, and I didn’t have to bend on anything. It’s an hour long, it’s funny as hell, you get a free brownie, and if you don’t come, that’s fine by me. I can’t ask you, I can’t do anything else but put out this expression, and if it becomes part of a larger thing, I can’t be the one to do that.
Hey. They’re called ‘rants’ for a reason.
Fortunately, I can at least still try to make a little money as a musician.