Continuing the series of essays for Indie Theatre Week, I asked Zack Calhoon–actor, playwright, blogger and our most recent Hamlet–to talk about why he chooses Indie Theatre as one of the venues for his work. Here’s what he had to say…
“Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? These are the questions that I ask myself after every audition, rehearsal, and performance. I work in a brutal profession that most of the world believes is dying and has been dying for decades. I began this journey thinking I knew the answers to these questions and that my answers would be set in stone for the rest of my life. They would never change. I was so sure of my vision of the future. As I’ve grown older, my priorities have changed and personal motives have evolved.
The one constant in my life in the last decade or so (besides my beautiful wife) has been Indie Theatre. I’ve worked with new and old companies in the Indie Theatre Community. Companies that have grown exponentially into pillars of our community like Boomerang Theatre Company and Flux Theatre Ensemble, and companies that are now defunct like Expanded Arts. I’ve watched numerous theatre spaces disappear in the wake of the credit and housing bubble bursting; historic hotbeds of theatrical creativity like the old Ohio Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Source.
Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat terrified that I might not know the answers to those simple questions anymore: Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? My younger self never planned on feeling doubt. My younger self never thought I’d stare into the void with fear. I never counted on my nerve being tested in the way it has for the last decade.
I slowly learned that the uncertainty is part of the journey and that sense of doubt that I feel is a feeling that everyone in this community felt themselves at one time or another. In those moments of doubt, I look to the leaders of our theatrical island of misfit toys: fearless leaders like Daniel Talbott and Tim Errickson; imaginative writers like Mac Rogers and Crystal Skillman; powerhouse actors like Susan Ferrara and Susan Louise O’Connor; and theatre advocates like August Schulenburg. These are the people talk me off the ledge. These are the individuals who inspire me to dig deeper, work harder, and challenge me to be the best artist that I can possibly be.
I know now that these questions are my touchstone as an artist. These questions remind me I’m still alive and that I want to be better actor…a better writer…a better husband…a better citizen of the world. Indie Theatre has given me so much and I know it will continue to nourish me as an artist for years to come. Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? I know the answers to these questions today for myself. They are private and ever evolving. I know they will change and that is as it should be.”