Inviting Desire and the Canadian Fringe Festival
In May of 2009, I was cast as member in an ensemble group for a play called Inviting Desire. I felt extremely lucky to be cast in the show for a multitude of reasons. For as long as I could remember I had wanted to be an actress. I acted in school plays throughout middle school and high school. When I got into college I studied theatre. Yet, by 2009 it had been nearly 10 years since I had been in a production. I’ve never been truly happy in any job I’ve ever had except on the rare occasions that I was in a paid production (and my short time as a snowboard instructor and cashier at a ski school in Germany). It was really important for me to get this role, but there was more than just my desire to act again, I really, really needed a job.
The housing market crash and recession of 2008 really hurt me. Right before the crash I had quit my job to try and take a few months off to write a novel I had wanted to write. It was only supposed to be for three months. I had saved enough for three months, but soon after I quit, the market crashed, and I couldn’t find a job. Three months turned into 8 months, and I was really struggling. During this time, I had to give up my writing studio (that was the first thing to go of course), and I cut my spending to the minimum to try and make that three months of savings stretch. Luckily, I had save for three months of rent on the studio. I would send out applications constantly. In one month, I sent out over 50 applications and had only one automated reply saying, “no thank you.” I’d go into restaurants with my resume and they would just throw mine on the pile with all the others. It was a demeaning and depressing time. So when I went to this audition, I never needed anything as much as I needed this.
Theatre Saved Me
I had a great roommate who also happened to own the house, and she did her best to help me stay by allowing me to fix things up on the property, but I was terrible at the job. I knew I couldn’t continue to stay there because she would eventually need someone who could pay rent. Inviting Desire was not only a play, but the company, Dance Naked Productions was taking the show on the road. I would be paid a salary, and I would also be able to live in a van (or with hosts) for two months while touring across Canada in the Canadian Fringe Festival. While on the tour, I also picked up a small paid gig writing about the shows I watched during the Fringe. I watched hundreds of shows. These were my most exciting paychecks. I was finally paid to act and to write.
It was an incredible and challenging experience. It was a role that stretched my acting boundaries. I met wonderful beautiful people who changed my perspective on how I lived my life. In many ways it was the beginning of travel for me. I have never had another experience like this one, and I will never forget how it helped me during one of the most difficult economic periods of my life. I never imagined that theatre would be the one to save me during a recession, but I feel like it was meant to be. I don’t experience many serendipitous moments, but I can honestly say that getting cast in Inviting Desire was exactly one of those moments.
No matter how many years have passed, I am forever grateful. I do hope that one day I can do something like this again, but even if it never happens, I am grateful I had it once.