Friday, July 3, 2009

The Last Fail

I'm seething with rage this morning.

I've just lost another actor. One who had already committed. One who was in it for the long haul. One I was starting to trust.

One who would have stayed if there had been more actors around him, more people who had said "Yes - I want to be in this play too."

Can I blame the guy? Well maybe, maybe not, but I won't.

I'm not mad at him. I'm mad at myself.

I'm filled with hatred for the way in which I can't seem convince people to do something that they already love to do. If I could torture myself, coerce my being into forcing out of me whatever this defect in me is I would do it, no matter what the pain.

But I've been through that pain. I've searched deep within myself, and I have found many answers, just not the one for this particular problem.

I'm tempted to lash out, to simply throw my hands up and scream "What is wrong with you people!" but I know that isn't the answer. After all, who constitutes "you people" in the first place? The question I should be screaming is "What is wrong with me!"

We have a new marketing and casting person now here at Grinder. You're likely to be hearing from him in the next couple of weeks. His job will be two-fold. First and foremost, he's here to sell tickets, and execute promotional campaigns that put bums in seats. Secondly, it will be his job to fill the casting needs of each particular show, whether I'm directing it or someone else is. This could include inviting people to auditions, or putting interested actors in touch with directors who are looking for a particular sort of person for a particular sort of show.

I hope Ricky will provide some relief for the two biggest problems we currently face, getting patrons out to the show and, as the world's greatest wife calls it "getting people to do." I hope that he will be able to address these two shortcomings, and finally clear the way for us to make some real progress here at Grinder (which in every other creative and operational respect is more than ready to move forward).

The Birth of Merlin is a wonderful play. I adore the premise, the plot (convoluted as it may be) and the cast of wonderful characters. But it's also The Last Fail. It's the last play that will be fatally wounded by casting issues. It's the last play that I will contact over 40 people for, only to be met with everything from polite "no thank-you's" to deafening silences. It's the last play that will suffer from my shortcomings.

It will be the Last Fail for one of two possible reasons. Either things will turn around and get better, or they won't, and I'll be forced to walk away.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned change on this blog. I did not choose change for the sake of change, or even change to take advantage of new opportunities. I was forced to change my outlook on Grinder because I've recently changed my outlook on life.

Grinder always has been and always will be my passion, but now it must move over and make room in my life for my one true love. She deserves more than I could ever hope to give her, and far more than I ever could provide from my activities with Grinder (my earnings from which have rarely even been enough to provide for my own meager needs).

And while the world's greatest wife is perfectly capable and willing to provide for herself, our burden is now a shared one, and I don't believe that cooking a few meals, removing a few spiders and renovating the basement amounts to pulling my share of the weight in our relationship.

Perhaps it would be enough, were it not for the emotional duress that casting issues at Grinder put the both of us under. I, perhaps, deserve to lay awake at night worrying about getting a show cast. She does not.

It would destroy my soul to walk away, to give up everything I've worked so hard for, to forget the almost 15 years of blood, sweat and tears I've now invested in the theatre industry, and go get a menial job in a fast-food restaurant somewhere.

Even working as a part-time burger slut would be enough to break my spirit and snuff out my creative fire, so even if I had the time I wouldn't be able to do the sort of work that keeps me going. I would be a broken, unhappy man, and would likely return to the self-loathing, inferiority, fear and social alienation that dominated my teenage years.

I've fought long and hard to break free from my younger self, and since I've met Jules I've felt happier and more at peace than at any other time in my life. I don't want to go back to who I was, not just because I would hate it, but because it would have an affect on her too, and our life together would be filled with much less happiness and adventure than it is now.

But it still would be better than what's in the past. Giving up Grinder would destroy my soul. But I'll do it before I let it destroy my marriage.

So to you, gentle reader, I hope you understand why The Birth of Merlin is The Last Fail, and the necessity of bringing change to our company. If you're on the membership list, you may be contacted sometime soon, and asked quite simply "How would you like to be involved at Grinder Productions?"

Don't mis-understand me, I'm not giving up just yet: think of this as the "Hail Mary" play in football - time is running down, we're out of time-outs, and still well out of our kicker's field-goal range - our only hope is to empty out the back field, send every receiver deep, and hope someone can get into an open lane to catch a 30 yard pass before the quarterback gets clobbered.


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