“What if, when you woke up, you didn’t know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”

For the past four months I have been blissfully living my dream, and now that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is getting ready to close, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what’s going to happen when I “wake up.” What will happen to the friendships I’ve forged? Where will these new professional relationships take me? Needless to say, the impassioned efforts of this show’s 23 dedicated artists has made for an incredibly positive experience (in case you couldn’t tell from my last few posts), and it’s bittersweet to see it end.

…But what if it didn’t have to end?

“The answer is out there, Neo, and it’s looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.”

On Tuesday night, I was stunned to received an e-mail from Artistic Director Evan Absher inviting me to join The Consortium Project as a full-time company member!

To say I was elated is an understatement. I was overwhelmed with excitement and tremendous pride (you can watch my reaction here). My efforts had paid off more than I could have ever imagined. Somehow, working among actors far more talented than I, I had managed to make a favorable impression, and I could not be more honored.

I’m usually a guy who goes with his gut on most things, and my gut was telling me to accept the invitation immediately. But when it comes to career matters, I like to ask questions and make sure I know exactly what I’m getting myself into. So before I decided whether or not to join, I sought the advice of my colleagues.

Brendan Ragan, a college friend and co-founder of Baltimore’s acclaimed Single Carrot Theatre, gave me some fantastic advice. He highlighted a few pros and cons of belonging to a theatre company:

PROS (according to Brendan):

  1. You have an amazing network of support.
  2. You grow artistically because of your comfort level with the company members.
  3. You can pour your time/energy/passion into a project that you are invested in (rather than a one-shot deal with a random company, about which it is easy to grow apathetic).
  4. You can have a consistent, rewarding amount of work lined up instead scrambling from audition to audition.
  5. In Brendan’s words, “People know me when I go places, because they know Single Carrot. I get free tickets everywhere, I’m in newspapers all the time, I get offered opportunities to read, act, and collaborate all the time because people respect the company, and therefore, respect me. Does being in a company open doors? Absolutely.”

CONS:

  1. You will have to turn down paying gigs at big theaters (which is heartbreaking and totally disappointing) because you’re already lined up with your company’s work.
  2. There are some days where you really won’t feel like doing the administrative work, but if you don’t do it, no one will and then no one will come see your shows.
  3. Sometimes you’ll have to put friendships aside because there will be disagreements. It can be challenging to do this, because personal relationships will influence your decisions, both good and bad. Favoritism, lobbying, politics…even if you are all close friends, these are legitimate side effects of constantly working together.

I also reached out to a couple of my former college professors and mentors back in Boulder, CO who have worked for theatre companies in their careers. Throughout all their replies, one message was clear…

“…I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”

So I took the red pill. πŸ™‚

Wish me luck! I’m excited to see where this rabbit hole leads…

~JVB

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