I recently did a wonderful amazing, soul wrenching, career-affirming staged reading. Of a 1930's era George S Kaufmann comedy. Weird, right?
First, let me say that every 20 something actress in the universe needs to read Stage Door by Kaufmann and Farber. The truths in it are timeless and pertain directly to us. The play is about a Broadway boardinghouse that houses young wannabe actresses who spend their days knocking on producers doors, mailing to casting agents and being rejected left right and center. In case you were wondering, all the things we go through today, they went through in the 30's. Gives you a sense of solidarity, doesn't it?
One of the most beautiful things about the play is that there are about 20 young women living in this boarding house (the cast has over 30 characters). So here I was on a rainy Sunday afternoon surrounded by some of the coolest, most talented young actresses in Chicago. Of course we all knew of each other, had seen each others's work, had noticed each other at auditions, but we really had time to just connect and watch and support for once. There was no competition, there were no nerves, we were just feeding off of this energy that only young, hungry actresses have. To top it off, the actress playing Mrs. Orcutt (the former leading lady turned boardinghouse matron) was a hugely respected Chicago actress whom we all looked up to. Trained as an ensemble actor, she set a tone for the piece of openness and safety. We weren't afraid to try things, to be free with the text, we were always giving focus to each other and jumping in to support one another. It was the clearest and strongest moment of female solidarity I've had so far in my career.
In a business where you have to constantly watch you back for other people's nails, when you're told horror stories about ruthless young women stopping at nothing (cue the dramatic music), this was exactly what I needed to renew my love of what we do. Its great to know you've got some strong chicks watching your back.