I was a theater kid all through high school and college. For a long time, a career in theater was the end goal, though the role I imagined for myself changed constantly; playwright, director, performer, light board operator, stage manager. I wanted to do everything, and so I did: acted, danced, worked as a puppeteer, wrote and directed plays, aimed spotlights, ran sound and light boards, constructed scenery and props, ushered people to their seats, ordered people around over headsets that were older than I was.
Once I was out of school, the reality of working in the industry quickly outpaced my love for it: low pay and bad conditions for non-unionized theaters, high competition, rampant sexism (especially on the tech side), and all the interpersonal drama that theater people are known for. I realized that the jobs I could get with my experience and limited network paid worse than a job as a barista, so I did that instead and never really looked back.
But I never stopped loving live performance. I dropped a one-week grocery budget on tickets to and twice that to see . I’ve seen in a tiny grange hall in rural Vermont, puppet troupes in barns and elementary school gyms, one-woman shows in drag bars, revivals of Grand Guignol one-act horrorshows in haunted forests. I once watched the actual worst-ever one-act with a drunken crowd at the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival in Chicago. It included a bisexual love triangle, a hip-hop peptalk from a Black homeless character, and a recorder solo. I think it was supposed to be a musical homage to Midsummer Night’s Dream? It was a lot.