I’ve been doing this shoemaking thing long enough that people just think of me as a shoe guy. While I’ve done it way longer than anything else in my life, I’ve been working in theatre since I was a kid and have worked in just about every aspect backstage. Professionally, I’ve been a carpenter (shop and stage), lighting technician, sound technician, set / costume designer, truck driver, followspot operator, rigger, technical director, props maker, dresser, head of wardrobe, et cetera et cetera et cetera. And each of these jobs has in one way or another helped me out on this path I’m on now.
Nothing prepares a person for running their own business like a career in the theatre. Seriously. Ten minutes ago, I was rewiring a dust extractor. A couple hours before that, I was playing carpenter / metalworker, making some new shaft stretchers. While I’m glad to have finally found my niche in the vast world of theatre, I’m also really grateful for the array of experience I received by floating around for a while. In some ways it’s a bit of a curse, as I’m always feeling like I need to do everything, but the busier I get, the more I’m getting over that…
I accepted ages ago that I’m never going to get rich working in the arts – very very few do. But what I’ve lack in financial gain, I feel I’ve made up for in experience. Sounds cliché, I know. But I wouldn’t trade any of it – the all-night load-ins, the 16 hour days sitting in the cab of a truck, the crawling around in a musty, dusty lighting grid of questionable safety. It’s all lead me to where I’m at now – still dusty, still tired, but on my own terms.
But man, I hope to never have to drive a truck again…..