Songs for the Struggling Artist


Put Me in Your Show

Dear Fellow NYC Theatre Makers,

Please put me in a show. You may know me more as a writer or director but I’m also a performer. I can act, sing, puppeteer, play guitar and ukulele or whatever you need. I would carry a spear like nobody’s business. I could also be a movement coach or dramaturg. Just. You know….ask me.

I know that’s not how these things usually work. I’m usually on your side of the desk. But – I’m not wanting to get back onstage because I’m trying to be a professional actor again. I don’t want to get headshots taken. (The last time I got acting headshots done they were in black and white and mine was literally just my head. I was also 21.) I’m not trying to get an agent or be seen by Mr. Guffman. I know Guffman isn’t coming and I know what the market for 40 something women who specialize in classical theatre is like.

I literally just want to do a show because I am longing for community and doing shows is literally the only way I know how to get it. The bummer of NYC theatre is that we’re all taking this stuff so seriously, we can never just do a show. And I think I need to just do a show.

I need to be in a room with a group of people all trying to create something. I need to go somewhere regularly where people would notice if I didn’t show up. (This was Johann Hari’s definition of home which I heard on the Your Undivided Attention Podcast – the place where they’ll miss you when you’re not there.)

The reason I want to do YOUR show and not my own is that, as you may have noticed, the community that forms during a show does not tend to form around the leader. The leader holds the space for the rest of the community but often isn’t a full part of it. At least that’s how it goes when I make something. When I’m in charge, I’m both inside and outside the group. I just want to be inside for a minute and I don’t want to be in charge.

I’m writing this so you’ll think of me when you’re looking for someone to hold a spear or make plunking sounds on a ukulele while the actors cavort. I’m a pretty good performer – but I don’t need to play Hamlet right now. Bring me in to be your messenger. I just want to be invited to the cast party. There is literally nothing like the instant community that theatre can create and I am thirsty for it at the moment. I have tried book clubs and cultural societies. I learned how to crochet so I could go to knitting meet-ups but what I really need is theatre. Not because I need the applause (though if you read this post you know I love applause) but because I need the community.

We don’t do a great job of creating a citywide theatre community here in NYC. Literally the only time I felt a part of it was during Devoted & Disgruntled NYC – an event organized by an English company. But almost all theatre folk are great at creating quick communities within shows. So – put me in one, if you’ve got a slot.

And while you’re at it, I bet you could find a bunch of others like me. They are practiced professionals that don’t comb Backstage looking for their next big break because they’ve got lives and responsibilities, like jobs and kids and such. But they’d probably just like to do a show every once in a while without too much hassle. You probably aren’t thinking of them when you’re casting your thing because you haven’t seen them in a while. They’ve been writing their novel or taking care of their kids or grading papers or recording their audio book – not submitting their stuff through Actors Access. Ask them. You might get lucky.

And heck – I’m not really into starting a whole new thing or anything – but if you’re a theatre person and you feel like me, drop me a line and let me know. (Comment below if you want, or message me.) I feel like I could be a keeper of a list of people who just want to do a show or at the very least get together for some pretend cast parties. (Oh my god. I would totally do this. We could all pretend we just opened some show we didn’t do and celebrate as if we had. I’m seeing name tags given out at the door so you get given your role and then you can play at being the ASM all night long.) Jeez – there I go again, compulsively making up things I’d have to lead. Save me from myself! Put me in your show!

This headshot is literally the only one I have and it is older than most of the people auditioning in NYC right now. It was taken by the wondrous Caverly Morgan. I’m not taking another one. Just put me in your show, already.

 

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They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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The Collective Emily Davis

You guys. Sometimes I get a little cranky about how common my name is. Like that time, a while back, when some other Emily Davis got into some serious debt and caused debt collectors to call me at various relatives’ houses because they couldn’t be sure I wasn’t THAT Emily Davis and they really wanted to find her.

Or when they wouldn’t give me a mailbox at my college post office because they said I’d just come in and withdrawn. Uh. Nope. I’d just arrived for my first year of college and I was super freaked out and the thought of not getting mail seriously wigged me out. (It was before email. No mail was serious back then.)

When I started to explore putting solo music online, I discovered an Australian Emily Davis who seemed to be doing pretty well. That was one other Emily. Then, a few years ago, I started to get tagged in Facebook events for shows I was not in. There was a new actress in town with my name and she was starting to get some traction.

Then recently I got a postcard in the mail for a show that declared “Emily Davis is mesmerizing” and I felt very weird.

On one hand: how nice! I am mesmerizing. I am glad someone finally noticed!

On the other hand: It’s not actually me that has been declared mesmerizing and it’s distressing to feel like this will be the only way I will ever be declared so. I started to feel bad about it and a little bit jealous of all the other Emily Davises who are doing better than I am at things I also do.

I mean, that’s the thing, I think. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t begrudge the success of a lawyer Emily Davis or a VP of marketing Emily Davis or a construction onsite Forewoman Emily Davis. It’s only the Emilys in the arts that trouble me. And maybe not even just the arts in general. I think I’d be delighted about a sculptor Emily or even a lighting designer Emily. It’s just the Emilys who do stuff I do. The actor Emily and the singer/songwriter Emily are the ones I know about. I’d for sure struggle with a writer or director Emily, too.

This is not a new problem. When I started acting, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be the only Emily Davis out there so I used my middle name right out of the gate. (My middle name is Rainbow for those of you who missed the announcement last year.) I thought it would help distinguish me from the herd – not just the other Emily Davises but anyone. When I moved more into writing and directing, though, I worried that my middle name might be a hindrance in people taking me seriously so I dropped it. As a woman in a male dominated field, I felt a need to project a tougher image. I needed all the help establishing authority that I could get. I submitted my plays as E. Davis, with the hope that someone might think I was Edward or Edgar or something and give E a shot they wouldn’t give Emily. There is evidence that this sort of thing makes a difference. That’s why I did it. But my work is pretty obviously made by an Emily and not an Edgar, I think – so that strategy never worked.

Anyway – I am still Emily Davis, regardless of whether the Rainbow is included and there are a lot of other Emily Davises. Because I found myself getting jealous and resentful of another Emily’s success, I decided I needed to reframe my responses to the others. I think I need to think of us a collective – the collective Emily Davis instead of competing ones. Instead of seeing another Emily’s success as a challenge to mine, I can see it as a lift for the collective. When one of us does well, we all benefit.

And this is not just a mind trick, I’ve realized. Practically, if Australian Emily has a hit song, it will drive traffic to my music as well, even if it’s only accidental. I mean, she gets 5000 listeners per month on Spotify and I get 36. I’ll take her spillover.  As the other New York actor Emily gets great reviews for her production at the Vineyard, there will be those who, in searching for her, will end up on my website, who check out my theatre company. And vice versa. Maybe someone looking for me will find one of them and fall in artistic love.

Previously, I’ve really only experienced the painful moments – when someone expected to see a different Emily and is disappointed to meet me instead. But I think, as a collective, we can turn this around. I am uniquely myself – the one and only Emily Rainbow Davis but I am one with the collective Emily Davis and I am proud of all of us.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Invite Me to Your Party
September 20, 2019, 12:16 am
Filed under: community, space | Tags: , , , , ,

Are you having a party? Invite me. I would like to come. Can I guarantee that I will make it? No. Stuff happens and sometimes migraines happen to me. So I am unfortunately not a terribly reliable guest anymore. Also if it’s super late and the trains aren’t running again on the weekends, it can get a little sticky but please invite me anyway.

I can make no guarantees but I am watching my social net develop a lot of holes so I need to get out more and I’d like to do it at your party.

I don’t always love parties. Since it became cool to be an introvert, I think a lot of us have become more comfortable confessing that sometimes a night in is more pleasurable than a party. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to go to parties at all. It certainly doesn’t mean we don’t want to be invited to them. If your introvert friend confessed that they don’t love a party, it doesn’t mean they won’t go and maybe even enjoy themselves! Invite them anyway!

I don’t know if it’s my age or where I live but no one seems to have parties anymore. My Gen X peers used to throw some real good ones – but maybe everyone’s too busy with their kids and/or parents to throw a party anymore?

One of the factors here in NYC is that it is tricky to find a space big enough to throw a party in. Those lofts in Williamsburg where eight artists used to live together and throw parties are now owned by a hedge fund manager – and he’s not inviting us to his parties. I used to know people with lofts. No more.

I mean, I’d invite you all over but my apartment is so small – just one extra person in it makes the place an obstacle course. No one likes a sardine party. Unless we’re playing sardines in a big old house in the country with lots of space and fun nooks and crannies. People like those parties.

I understand why people have fewer parties than they used to. It’s often expensive to throw a party and these days it’s really hard to get people to show up for anything – even free food and booze. To go to all that expense and trouble for nothing?

I mean. I have had gatherings wherein no one showed up. Not one person. For my most recent birthday I invited 40 people to come out with me and only one of them made it. (I didn’t really want a 40 person party but this isn’t my first birthday rodeo. Previous ratios suggested that if I invited 40, I’d get 4.) I have put on shows that I have had to cancel because no one came. I know many other theatre makers who have struggled to get people to show up for them. I heard about a party wherein the hosts had offered to pay for housing and flights to Europe for their weekend birthday and most of the guests cancelled at the last minute. I mean, if you can’t even get people to show up for an all expense paid trip to Europe, we’re in a bit of social crisis.

I think, with all the social media at our disposal, we have come to feel as if our social needs are taken care of – because we have a thousand Facebook friends, or followers on Twitter. It’s CLOSE to being with people – but it’s not close enough. We need to have times where we are face to face. We need to go to parties even when we’d rather stay home and watch GLOW on Netflix. I know I need to be more social. I need to get out and start knitting up the holes in my social fabric. The holes are nobody’s fault – it’s just shifting norms, living in a migratory city and the traffic patterns of urban life.

So if you’re having a party. Please invite me. I am usually pretty fun at a party. If you need someone to start the dancing, I’m your girl. If you stopped inviting me because I never came, try me again. I’m trying to be better. I think a lot of us are. I can count at least three friends who have said that they are trying to be more social these days, too. Invite us all! We’ll have a good time! And hey, if you’d just rather watch GLOW on Netflix, invite us over for that. Let’s watch it together. A quiet TV watching party is fun, too! Just – if you have the space and you were wondering if you should have a party, you should. And you should invite me.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to help me to one day have a big enough space to have a party?

Become my patron on Patreon.

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

 




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