Once upon a time I attended the University of Louisville and majored in the Theatre Arts. I was an actor, but after two semesters my portrayal of the gentlemen caller Jim from The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (a modern reference for non-theatre folk below) was described as ‘a character villain at best’.
I must admit there might have been a Magneto of X-men sort of undercurrent to my scene work.
From there I switched to directing and did my work-study in the scene and costume shops. I spent many semesters building and painting sets, a few subbing in at the costume shop and as prop master. (I also hung and struck a few lights). Not to toot my own horn, but I landed in the graduate level directing classes by what should have been my junior year and received a multitude of accolades from a pretty serious theatrical town.
One of the things we’ve (my wife and I) decided to do this year, now that the house remodel is under control is to shift my energies into doing more creative work I once found fulfilling before I got suckered into a career in Information Technology.
I build sets, costumes, and props. I direct actors- God I love that more than anything. I always dreamed of doing so in motion pictures, but at the moment ripping up stakes dropping into Los Angeles and starting over isn’t very pragmatic.
Since directing requires more people and resources than I can muster at the moment, I’ll spend a bit of time this year building a working shop of my own and maybe take on a few commissions.
The reference that references Glass Menagerie in it as promised (skip to 35 seconds):
I had hooked up my little red pancake so that my wife could detail her car and get the little crumbs and fur out of the crevices for the shop vac. I was quietly enjoying a cigar as he raged his little motor when I spotted flame. Then he sputtered and died. I drained the tank one last time.
First I looked up parts to replace. In the olden days, garage shops would disassemble and repair. The part in questions was $148, which was more than it would cost to replace him with a comparable model. Next stop, upgrade at a pawn shop. In looking, I found used tools that were either overpriced, or simply just too good to ‘be true’. Price point again (after haggling) $145, with possible failure or repair in an uncertain future.
Craigslist turned up bub-kiss. Again overpriced, more machine than I will ever use and out of the price range. In the end Harbor Freight delivered. I replaced it with 4 times the volume, which means less raging noise, and only went $20 beyond the replacement price. It also means I can run a paint gun, which was going to be sketchy at best with the poor little pancake.
It’s funny how you feel like you get nothing done today, even though you’re incredibly productive.
Yesterday I got nothing done.
I cleaned the kitchen and did all the dishes.
I vacuumed all the stairs.
I vacuumed the bedrooms.
Disassembled shelving in my wife’s office.
I vacuumed the shards of fluorescent tubing that shattered in the shop the other day.
More importantly, I (with a sprained knee) walked my dogs.
Shopped for a new air compressor.
Shopped for a used shop vac.
Did a lumber inventory.
Read a 100 page manual for building a Proto-Vacuform.
Shopped for aluminum sheet metal.
Bought the last Harry Potter book we need to complete the set.
Fixed my photo printer.
And worked a full day at the day job.
What I wanted to do was magically finish the workshop. Buy materials for the Proto-Vacuform and finish the Alien Queen. What that all felt like I was doing was: surfed the web, walked around, and did things no adult gets credit for doing. In the end, the best thing I did was walking the pups.
My own public notebook of thoughts, things and activities.