Think about all of the people who serve necessary functions to make for a successful flight:
Pilot: Someone needs to fly the plane.
Co-pilot: Back up to fly the plane when the captain can’t.
Stewards: My flights have literally been cancelled when the FAA regulated number of stewards has not arrived (I think you need at least three, maybe four).
Flight Control: People to monitor the skies to make sure planes don’t hit each other.
Runway Crew: Someone’s gotta wave those orange sticks to guide the plane from the runway to the gate.
Baggage Crew: People to get the bags checked, to and from the bag check onto the plane, off the plane, and onto the baggage carousel. Not to mention the poor souls who have to do customer service at Lost Baggage or do the shifts when the airline accidentally loses your bag and has to deliver it later to your final destination.
TSA Employees: Check our documents, remove our toiletry items over 4oz, keep us safe.
Misc. Airport Personnel: I know I get grumpy when I arrive at an airport to refill my empty reusable water bottle only to find that the water fountain is broken. Thanks to whoever is making sure those babies work. Also thanks to the people who work the registers so I can buy my “as healthy as I can find” airport meals and/or other guilty plane pleasures (magazines and peanut m&ms because #balance)
All of the other people I’ve forgotten or don’t even know about who make my flights on time, accessible realities.
Speaking of planes, I recently took a trip to Ireland.
On a car ride, I flipped through the local Irish channels and found some talk radio: two Irish men having a conversation about university students and professions. I had originally stopped on the channel to listen and analyze their adorable dialects, and I stayed listening when they began talking about how important it is to have ALL professions in a society. One of the men used an example saying that Irish society needs students who go to school to study accounting just as much as it needs students to study acting. He said there is a place in society for all of us and that the important thing is that you figure out what you’re passionate about and then chase that.
I nearly drove into a sheep. Could Irish people really be having the same conversation that many of us have in America!? Was this really a universal debate, and did I really just hear an old Irish professor stick up for actors unprompted on public radio?
The next time you find yourself feeling guilty about being an actor and wondering how it’s contributing to society, I encourage you to remember that the world needs you. The world is in an unfathomable state of turmoil right now. People are hurting. Theatre heals AND allows an opportunity to escape the perils of the planet to laugh again. It offers an opportunity to connect- something we’re forgetting the importance of rapidly- both to the story being told on stage and to the other humans in the audience.
There is room for all of us in society as long as we are generously offering passion with whatever it is that we’re contributing.
Whether you’re the baggage crew, the co-pilot, the water fountain maintenance man, or stewardess #4, we need your creative expression and artistry.