Monday, August 30, 2010

Kevin's Story

Kevin is cast as Will Parker at a regional theater production of Oklahoma. He is the youngest person in a veteran cast. The actor playing Curley has played the role six times. The woman cast as Laurie just closed a show on Broadway. While Kevin has gotten work in several national tours, this is the first time he has landed a role that isn’t in the chorus and would be considered one of the principals. Better yet, the director seemed to cast him because of his potential and has mentioned both at casting and callbacks that he is looking forward to helping Kevin develop the character.

Heading into the two-week rehearsal process, Kevin is excited to play Will Parker and have the opportunity to explore the role and grow as an actor.

Unfortunately the director has terminal cancer and has to miss the majority of the rehearsals. While he remains billed as the director, a second director is hired to facilitate the process – a director who, though Kevin has worked with on several occasions, is one of those directors who will simply pull out his Oklahoma binder and proceeded to block the show he’s already directed eight times.

The new director is one of those directors who gives very precise blocking and accepts very little collaboration from his actors. Pretty soon Kevin began to feel very limited and constrained by the process. He is having a harder time too than some of the other actors who have already played their roles several times. Kevin begins to doubt his abilities and whether or not he should have been cast in this role, let alone this show.

As a result, this was Kevin's last show. He has left theater and become an engineer. And although this may be an extreme example, how often do we as theater artists and artists in general experience this type of toxic environment that makes us question the relevance and ability to fulfill of our art?

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