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Playwrighting 

Acting, Writing, and Parenthood
by Kevin M Reese

I started out as a singing actor (See my resume).  I went to college (a few of them!) and learned from really good, inspiring teachers.  Then for about 10 years, I traveled around the Midwest as a typical gypsy actor.  Lots of summer stock, some dinner theatre, I was a guest artist with a symphony, a couple community theatres and a college.  Then I got on with a Children's Theatre and I never looked back.  My background is singing, acting, performing, communicating-- telling a story.

I remember the feeling of satisfaction, completeness, wholeness I used to get when I was onstage.  It sounds corny, but I felt like I was HOME-- especially when I was performing children's theatre in a theatre or gym full of kids and families.  There was no doubt about the magic that was going on.  I was in a "groove" and the kids were definitely with me. It was working!

Then I met a great girl, settled down and got married.  We soon had a baby and, since she made 3X what I made as an Actor/Tour Manager/Director/Acting Teacher/Playwright.... we decided that I would concentrate on writing so I could be a Stay-at-Home Dad.  We wanted one of us there for our kids. 

That was over 10 years ago.  It was rough for a while.  My old-fashioned hardwiring that "men support the family and women stay home with the kids took more than a few years to bypass.  I'm just now "getting it."  I don't for a moment regret our decision.  Occasionally someone familiar with my performing career will ask me if I "miss it."  I don't.

A couple years ago, I was doing Atticus in a production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" for a buddy of mine who just started as the new Artistic Director for a small regional theatre.  It was the first time I had done theatre for grown-ups in quite a few years.  I enjoyed it and I was OK in it-- but after it was over I realized that whatever "strokes" I had gotten as an actor years before, I was now getting elsewhere.  I didn't have the familiar feelings of being "home" onstage.  It was then that it dawned on me that I was being "fulfilled" through my roles as Dad and playwright.

Think about it:  what is it about acting and performing that satisfies an actor?  For me, it was:

  • Exploring other worlds, other personalities
  • That give-and-take connection you get with the audience.
  • The mental exercise of creativity
  • Communicating something new to your audience
  • Developing friendships with other performers and directors.

As a Dad and Playwright I get to:

  • Explore other worlds through reading to my kids.  I also get to CREATE other worlds through my playwrighting. 
  • I get a daily give-and-take with my kids.
  • I am now CREATING instead of just RE-CREATING.  I don't just explore one character of a script-- I create all the characters, all the locations, all the situations, etc. of a new script.  The ultimate mental exercise for me.
  • My kids are learning my values, my beliefs, my attitudes through their daily interaction with me-- and I'm learning new things through their perspectives.
  • OK, I don't meet many people outside our family (especially "grown-ups")-- but I adore my kids!  I will be a sufferer of the Empty Nest Syndrome.

This is all to say:  I like what I'm doing and I'm happy and fulfilled.  I don't mean to sound like a girl ("I'm fulfilled!") but it's important to be satisfied by what you do.  After my kids are grown, I may very well get back into performing.  If we move to another small town that doesn't offer theatre to their kids, I may start up another children's theatre.  Who knows what the future holds? For right now, I'm in a good place.  Life is good.

 


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