Songs for the Struggling Artist


How to Help Artists the Most

As a self-described struggling artist™, when the pandemic struck us and people suddenly started worrying about struggling artists, many folks thought of me. I appreciated it very much. It was quite remarkable to suddenly receive support I didn’t explicitly ask for.

But as a Struggling Artist™ (just kidding, it’s not trademarked,) I have felt some ambivalence about the resources for us that I’m seeing emerge. The bulk of them are emergency funds and they are incredibly necessary for so many people. I bow down to those who are raising those funds. But one thing I’m thinking about a lot is how few artists I know who would actually apply for these sorts of resources. Everyone I’ve talked with about them is leaving them for someone who is in real need.

See, what constitutes an emergency for many artists is fairly extreme. Is it just not having the income to pay rent? Because we’ve all been there before. Is that really an emergency? It is. Sure. But it’s a familiar one.

There were also a lot of institutions out there talking the talk of raising money for artists but essentially paying themselves and/or making artists prove their worthiness for the money raised. The best resources for artists seem to be the ones generated by other artists who are streamlining their processes dramatically. There are also some supports emerging from the unions and guilds. What’s sticky about all this is that the people who can make the best cases for their emergency funding are people who lost something. The actors who suddenly lost their Broadway gig, the playwright who had their show cancelled. Those are clear and obvious things to redress.

But as an artist who did not have a job to be fired from or a production to lose, the loss for me is just sort of normal. Sure, I can’t do some of my day jobs – but for the most part the emergency happened several years ago. I’ve already lost many things. My time for emergency funding has passed. I think there are many of us in this state. Artists who were already living on the edge, who already had our fall.

It’s like, we’ve been compelled to walk a tightrope for all these years and suddenly, now that there’s an earthquake, everyone’s like, “Oh, here’s a little net.” Not a particularly robust net – just a net that might allow you to fall without getting smashed to pieces in one go. And you have to search for the net store and fill out a bunch of paperwork and very possibly have to sit on the phone with a broken unemployment system for hours at a time. And the funding you might have been eligible for as a freelance self-employed person has already run out, thanks to corporations like Shake Shack and Harvard who bogarted the money.

And of course, of course, we’re grateful for the net but also it would have been nice to not have had to walk a tightrope in the first place. And in my case, I already fell. So asking for a net now feels silly. I’ve been knitting one that works down on the ground for years. I’m okay. Not amazing – but I’ve had some surprising nets appear in the last couple of years so I’m okay.

For a brief moment, it looked possible for this country or state to do the things that would have helped provide a real net for everyone, not just artists. They could have canceled rent. They could have provided a UBI. But those ideas seemed to have vanished as quickly as they bubbled up. The real relief has not come, so now it’s emergency grants, left and right. Artists are applying for $500 here and $500 there, which will be helpful in the short term but will only break the inevitable fall.

I saw one resource that would have provided a substantial amount of money to an artist. It stipulated that it was for an artist in “dire financial need” and it made me think about how sticky “dire financial need’ Is. How dire is dire? Some things are obvious. There are those without health insurance or who can’t afford groceries. We know that’s dire. But I know artists who are in a cold panic about what they will do after they’ve paid this month’s rent out of their savings – but, of course, they have a savings. Had. They won’t for long. But meanwhile, someone who’s unable to make payments on their summer cottage may see their situation as dire. Dire is relative and a lot of artists live so close to dire already we don’t necessarily know it when we see it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the emergency funds that have sprung up and how reluctant many artists are to take advantage of them. I remember reading an article about artist housing and some jerkwad commented on it, railing about how artists were always looking for a hand out. It made me mad then and it makes me madder now – because not only are artists generally not looking for hand-outs, many can barely be convinced to take them when they are offered with the explicit purpose of helping them. In my experience, artists just want to be paid for their work, like anyone. We literally just want someone to pay us for the thing we do. We want to be paid for our writing, our performing, our music, our art. We would like for folks to buy our book or our album or (when we’re not in a pandemic) tickets for our shows. But the problem is, while most people like and care about art, they’re not inclined to pay for it. So – even now, in this moment where art that can be enjoyed at home is the thing that is making most people’s quarantines bearable, most of it is free.

So artists, not inclined to take a hand-out are languishing, unpaid, for work that is the lifeblood of the culture. The amount of creativity bubbling up out of our sudden removal from capitalist everyday life is really quite staggering and beautiful. I mean – the guy who made a restaurant for squirrels? Come on. No one would have ever given him a grant to make such a thing. But many an artist is too panicked about survival to create a squirrel restaurant and emergency funding to a handful of them who already had access to some resources isn’t going to solve it.

I keep thinking about this funding scheme invented by some artists who have already achieved notable success. They are creating content that people will apparently pay to watch (will they, though?) and then those artists select other artists to receive the money. It is a nice idea. Except it definitely feels like a way for the cool art kids to pass on some resources to the just about to be cool kids, like the kids who have a couple of fancy credits but not a Broadway show yet. Listen, I’m cool but not the kind of cool that Taylor Mac is likely to give a 10k grant to. That grant is def going to the latest indie cabaret star most like Taylor Mac. It just is. And I mean no disrespect to Taylor Mac. If I were in charge of selecting art, I would be more likely to fund the work most like Emily Rainbow Davis, no matter how hard I tried not to. So – the resources are swirling around the places there were resources before, of course. And that makes sense. We can’t fix the whole field while the whole field is benched, can we? Can we? I doubt it. I’d like it if we could. But I doubt.

So how can you really support artists at this moment? You could donate to an emergency fund. There are a few that really do deliver such things. I am a fan of the Indie Theatre Fund and personally know an artist who received funds from them quickly. But the best possible way to support an artist is to pay them to do what they do. If they have a book for sale, buy a few. Get one for you and a couple for your friends. If they have music for sale, buy a few albums. If they have a Patreon, sign up to be a part of it. If they make visual art, buy some! If they’re a performing artist and you can hire them for some video work or voice work, do that. Or you can always follow the advice of Raja Feather Kelly and just ask them what they need.

And, listen, if you don’t like the artist’s work, but you like them, maybe buy their work anyway. Buy it and give it to someone you know who will appreciate it. Hell, I’ll take it. I want everyone’s art! Everyone seems to always be making decisions about whether art is good or bad and they’re very sketchy about paying for art unless it pleases them precisely. Generally, people won’t donate to fundraising campaigns unless they’re really sold on the project. I think they feel like their dollars are the arbiters of taste. Just donate. You don’t have to think your friend’s project is the best thing in the world. We don’t have any national funding for individual artists; sometimes fundraising campaigns are our only hope. You don’t have to like everything to support one.

I feel like sometimes people treat art like it’s furniture and they won’t buy anything unless it absolutely fits with the rest of the house. They won’t buy the book, or the album or the fund the project if it isn’t exactly to their taste. And yet the same person will worry that an artist won’t be able to afford to buy groceries this month and donate to some arts organization that will use it to keep the lights on at their institution. If you want to really and truly support an artist, pay one for something they do. It’s that simple.

For me, there are a multitude of ways to do that. That’s the net I’ve been knitting. Patreon is the frontline. There, my patrons pay me for these blogs and the audio version of the blogs that is the podcast. And, at the moment, I’m fundraising for the audio drama podcast I’m making. This is my big work right now and it is what is allowing me to pay a bunch of OTHER artists to do what they do best at a time when there is not a lot of work on offer. Will it buy me groceries? Not until I’ve paid everyone else. But, yes, eventually, if I can get the whole thing made, it could also buy me groceries. Not yet, though. If you’re worried about me eating, hit me up on Patreon, PayPal or Kofi. But I’m fine. I have a net with Patreon but not everyone has been knitting all this time. That’s why it’s not a terrible time to be this Struggling Artist™ – because I’ve been around this work-drying-up-block a few times and I know how to show new folks around the neighborhood. I also know how to help them and now you do, too. (Buy their art!)

Like this photo? I downloaded it from Pixabay for free but you could pay this photographer for their work. My goal is to pay for the photos I use in the blog one day – when my net is a wee bit less porous.

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

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

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 be a part of my net?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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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

 



Digital Gentrification and Ontological Insecurity

When it became clear to me that my big break in theatre wasn’t coming any time soon, I began to create things in the digital space. If I couldn’t book a gig in a theatre, I could at least, play a song on-line or have some words I wrote get read. While I appreciated the opportunity to share with people around the world, I also felt somewhat banished into that space. The difficulty and expense of producing things pushed me there. The many barriers to entry exiled me there. Given a choice, I would have chosen a career of only theatre. I would not have become a blogger or podcaster. But I wasn’t given a choice and so I did (and do) do those things. I love them but they’re sort of a substitute for theatre for me.

And now, due to the virus, my entire field has been sent home and all the people who have never not worked steadily in theatre are catapulting into the digital space. And I feel super weird about it.

I would like to be magnanimous and welcome everyone to my world, put up a banner and give everyone a cocktail and some snacks. But I’m not feeling quite that generous yet. Because it’s not like I’m over here holding the secrets to  getting lots of views and downloads. I’m feeling a little bit encroached upon, I have to confess.

Suddenly, the internet is full of theatre folk – live-streaming, zooming, creating that digital content. Meanwhile, my work garners half the views and downloads as usual. I guess it feels a little like digital gentrification.

Like, here I am, living over in the part of town no one else wants to live in and suddenly when the lights go out on all the stages, everyone rushes to the one place the lights are still working (for the time being) and it just happens to be my neighborhood. And because all the new arrivals are sparkly and have followings, all eyes turn toward them. It just suddenly feels very crowded on the internet. Which is funny, because it is huge.

My response to all this makes me feel a little petty, like I should, for sure, have put up that magnanimous welcome banner instead of shouting “Get off my digital lawn!” (I did not do this, to be clear. But I wanted to.)

One of the things I noticed when the performing arts were shut down a couple of weeks ago was a sort of fundamental panic that seemed separate from the more obvious panics arising. The most obvious panic inducing elements were the loss of income and the loss of time and efforts invested in heartfelt projects. There were jobs lost, shows closed, rehearsals cut off in mid-process. But the fundamental panic was one of identity – the “If there is no theatre, who am I? What do I do if I don’t do what I do?”

I’ve just learned that this phenomenon is something called Ontological Insecurity and as restrictions have increased and mobility decreased, more and more people feel it. Performing Artists were, perhaps, the first people hit by this ontological crisis but many others were soon to follow. I learned about this concept while listening to a podcast about a woman escaping a cult. The concept came up because, having spent 12 years in this cult, her entire sense of self, her ontological security, of knowing her place in the world, was wrapped up in the cult. To leave the cult created intense ontological insecurity.

I’m not saying we’re all in a cult that we suddenly were compelled to leave but I think the structure applies. In my on-line podcast groups, everyone was talking about how their numbers dropped when this all started. In a matter of days, they lost half their listens. The factors are complicated and some are practical, like, commuters aren’t commuting and are therefore not listening. But I suspect that the ontological insecurity is also a factor. People, without their jobs to go to or to hang their identity on are a bit at loose ends and so they are not really up for their usual podcasts. What I’m trying to say is, it might actually be the worst time to move to my digital neighborhood.

When this is all over, I hope all the folks who moved into my digital neighborhood will return to the stage (and that there will be stages to return to). I’d like to return to the stage myself one of these days, though I don’t love my chances now that the entire field has been laid low. I mean, the theatre in which I just did a show last month is unlikely to reopen, as are many of the spaces that have historically been available to me. It’s clearly going to be a different field when we return to it. And I don’t know what will come of my little digital neighborhood once the stars return to their stages, but I hope we will all be able to recover somehow and spend many ontologically secure hours in many welcoming communities. I’ll put up the banner for that, for sure.

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

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

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 survive the digital gentrification?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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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



Toilet Paper and Art

My improviser friend used to talk about his craft being toilet paper – that you pulled off a square and then threw it away. It was impermanent and that was its appeal. It was a uniquely disposable craft.

In our new toilet paper obsessed society, I’m not sure this analogy works anymore. No one is hoarding improvisers. They’re stuck at home like the rest of us – their skills going wanting.

But I had already been thinking about this analogy fairly often, even before the coronavirus made us fetishize toilet paper. I was thinking about it in relationship to things made on the internet, which often feel like toilet paper art as well. That is, we make something, we put it on the internet and the internet does whatever it’s going to do with it and then it gets washed away in the flow of whatever happens next. Almost nothing has a sense of permanence.

The first website I was a part of making was back in 2002 and it really felt like we were constructing a building. Our designer created a bit of art out of the art we had made and we felt it would be around forever. When I made a MySpace page, I thought of it as a place – and a place people would visit and spend time in. I thought they would click around and listen to everything.

I continue to have this old fashioned view of what happens on-line. When the virus sent everyone home, I thought, “Oh, now’s the time that someone will start reading the back catalogue of the blog. Someone’s about to go very deep into the library of Songs for the Struggling Artist.” But, of course, no one’s doing that. They’re not even reading the most recent blogs. In fact, the views on both my blogs have never been lower.

I suspect that this is mostly because everyone is panic reading all they can find about the virus and shutdowns and quarantines and such but ALSO because everything on the internet is disposable. We don’t go looking for interesting corners to click around in anymore. We don’t read anyone’s entire oeuvre or listen to anyone’s entire repertoire. We just watch the stream of information and ideas go by and pick out whatever looks interesting to us. Sometimes something comes up from the past – but for the most part, we consume our internet in an ever present present. It’s all toilet paper now.

As a person who makes things that live in this digital space, I don’t love this. I don’t find it encouraging. It’s hard to put one’s heart and soul and sweat and skill into something and watch it sink into the stream never to be seen again. It can be just as discouraging to, say, put on a play and have not many people come to see it – but at least in the live medium, you have the moment, you have the exchange. One of my favorite performance experiences ever was a show we put on for one audience member. No one showed up but her but we didn’t cancel and it was extraordinary. In remembering watching her watching it, I am transported to the sense of wonder on her face. That look is sustaining, even all these years later, in a way that a few likes on a post that disappeared into the internet ocean are not.

And now everyone’s livestreaming because what else can they do? It feels like you could fill a day with all the live concerts and performances that are suddenly popping up in a Facebook feed. Now, it seems, with everything shut down, the disposable nature of making things on the internet becomes even more disposable. We do it today and forget about it tomorrow.

The endless scroll of many social media sites makes it feel like the internet happens in front of us and it is seductive and hard to break free of. I know it’s hard for me to stop watching the flotsam go by to go purposefully look at something more permanent that I want to know about. But I suppose that’s my plea, that while we’re stuck at home, largely on-line, that we all go clicking around in the weird places on the internet like in the old days. Go investigate somebody’s entire web comic. Watch all of a choreographer’s recorded dances. Explore the back catalogue of someone’s writings. There are so many stories that got placed hopefully up on the web never to be seen again. It’s not like watching someone’s live performance in a theatre by yourself, of course, but taking a deep dive in some artist’s pool might offer something a little different than what floats by every day. It might all be toilet paper but some of it has been carefully sculpted into something wonderful somewhere. There are a lot of undiscovered treasures that have sunk to the bottom of the internet ocean, hoping to one day be revealed. Go diving, if you can.

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

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

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 find a more permanent place in the internet ocean?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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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



Performing Arts Going Dark

Have you all read Station Eleven? I mean, don’t, if you haven’t. Even the author recommends waiting a few months to read it. It’s a little too relevant right now. It hits a little too close to home. It begins with a pandemic that leads to the radical upending of civilization. You can see why you might want to wait a minute to get into it. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week – not just because of the pandemic – but because of what happens after the pandemic. The heart of the story is a traveling Shakespeare company that tours the devastated country. When nothing is left, we have the arts.

At the moment, with all the performing arts cancelled, it can feel like our work is unimportant or inessential. Suddenly, it is, technically, palpably dangerous to do what we do. Suddenly, it has become reckless to gather people in a room and share things with them. Suddenly, the very thing that makes the performing arts so magical is the thing that makes them dangerous. Almost everyone I know in New York works in the performing arts in some capacity and almost everyone I know is in a state of absolute disarray. As show people, we are built with an intense drive for the show going on. We are used to pushing through any numbers of difficulties in order to make it to the stage. To have the stage pulled out from under us is counter to everything we feel in the very fiber of our beings. The show must go on! It can’t be cancelled! It goes on! Isn’t it better to do a show? Isn’t it always better to do a show than not do a show? Won’t the arts save us all? Not in this case, no. Not in the way we’re used to.

What’s happening for us is not just a crisis of economics (though it is that and quite a serious one at that) but also a crisis of faith. If the shows don’t go on, who are we? What is all this for? How can it not be good to gather a group of people together and share art with them? To laugh? To cry? To tap our toes to the beat together? To have our heartbeats sync up as we watch? How? How? How?

But, of course, in a pandemic, it is very bad for us all to be in a room together. I am interested in the connections we share with other things that have had to shut down recently. Sports and religious gatherings are experiencing the same unilateral canceling. We are all shut down together – all the things that bring people together, that unite us, are dangerous.

But this does not mean they are inessential. Things that bring people together, like the performing arts, like sports, like religion, are key to our survival, to our thriving as a species. It feels to me that in losing that ability of being all together in a unified state, I’ve come to appreciate it anew.

Sometimes, you may have noticed, I get a little cranky about theatre. I see shows and they make me angry and sometimes I tell you about it. I get mad – partly because I want shows to be better and partly because my ability to make shows has been hampered over the years so I get mad about shows that have a lot of resources and squander them.

But here we are in the middle of a pandemic and almost all theatres have been shut down. And it becomes instantly clear that I would rather watch the worst show there is (It’s Bike. You know it’s Bike.) over and over and over again than have no theatre at all.

For all my ranting, I do love the stuff and I’m sad for even the worst show that has closed. It suddenly feels very important to me to know that shows are running, even ones I’ll never see, even ones I hate.

I hope that when this is all over, there will be a renewed appreciation for the performing arts and their important place in our culture. We were all shaken by how quickly the entire theatre business was shut down here in New York. It was as if someone flicked a switch and thousands of people lost their jobs and thousands more lost their dreams. Like that. In an instant. But this doesn’t mean the arts are a frill that get dropped in a time of crisis. It’s just that being with people is what the performing arts are all about and suddenly being with people is dangerous and so the performing arts become the most dangerous. And not because theatre people are some of the most touchy feely people out here, either. It’s because a bunch of people breathing the same air is the heart and soul of the work – and right now that air is treacherous. So we have to stop.

But maybe, once this has passed, we can come to appreciate what we lost when the theatres went dark.

Maybe it doesn’t need to be as extreme as Station Eleven – where survivors form a community building Shakespeare company. Maybe we don’t have to wait for the destruction of civilization as we know it to support the performing arts. Maybe we can support them right now so that theatre spaces will be able to open again, that shows can continue their runs, that freelancers can survive this terrifying downturn. As this article in Vulture says, “As concert halls, theaters, and museums around the world go dark, we all need to move quickly to ensure that when it’s finally safe to emerge from our lairs, we still have a cultural life left to go back to.”

Personally, I’ve come up with a project to keep some theatre folk creatively engaged with a project that we can do from our homes. I was working on it prior to this disaster in another form and it just happens to be possible this way. So I’m just rolling forward on that and it’s already delighting me.

The skills that help us bring people together in real life are stepping up to help keep us together while we are separated. Here are two that I know about – The Social Distancing Festival and Musicals from Home. Many many theatre folk are going to find this social distance thing very very difficult (as I’m sure most people will – but I think it hits our community driven community especially hard.) I feel quite certain this will drive a lot of them to become very inventive to create distance community and whatever those inventions are will benefit us all in the long run.

There will be theatre when this is all over. And concerts. And dances. And hopefully we will all appreciate them and being with each other all the more.

Look at all these theatre kids touching each other. We can’t do this right now. And it sort of made me tear up just looking at them. Photo by Mauricio Kell via Pixabay

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

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

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 get through this no theatre time?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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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



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.

 

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 be star supporters in the show of my life?

Become my patron on Patreon.

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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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