I struggled to call myself an artist for a long time, and even now I still have to work at it

Identity is a strange thing. For many years in my life, although I was a writer in my spare time and a performer whenever I could find a project, whenever someone would ask what I did, I would describe my day job. Because I felt that since I didn’t wrote or perform full time, that I could not use those titles to describe myself. That I wasn’t enough of an artist to describe myself as one. I no longer feel that way, but getting here was a long journey.

I still feel like an imposter, though. While I write and perform as much as I can, I don’t perform as often as I would like. I have been at the mercy of Fringe lotteries for a long time, which does limit how often I can perform, since those lotteries have seldom been in my favour. So while I have plays that have been written, it’s rare that they get performed. There are grants that I can apply for, but there are certain grants that I feel guilty applying for because I feel like those grants should go to people who need them for subsistence. Writing grants especially. But I do feel like grants are necessary to be taken seriously. But I come back to feeling guilty about taking a grant.

So I wonder if it is possible to be taken seriously as a theatre artist in Canada while working a day job. Is it possible to be taken seriously as a theatre artist without grants?

I guess the real issue is that I am coming to a point when I want to be creating more. It’s an unreliable way to perform, and I am getting too old to wait for the opportunity to put my work out. As the saying goes, I don’t want to leave my music unsung, my stories untold.

I need to find ways to make it happen, to put my work on stage. And I need to find ways to make that happen as much as often as I can. And I need to find ways to do that. I need to figure out if my assumptions about grants have been wrong. Or are there other ways to fund the art?

And I need to figure it out. I have so much to share.

One Comment

  1. Richard Beaune

    I’ve never had trouble calling myself an artist, I think because I’ve never taken that word too seriously. I’ve had a hard time calling myself a professional or good, and for most people those things are implied with the word artist but I’ve never felt that way about the word. Semantics. I have a ton of imposter syndrome, though, for sure and I relate to the struggle. What I can tell you is that I think you’ve grown into one of my favorite playwrights and actors. Theatre school probably still sits heavy on you and I know that you have always had a hard time believing that you are as good as you are. When we were starting out, I knew that you had something that was still untapped and I loved working with you because you were always willing to try to reach it. Now, you’ve grown into a real artist, and you don’t need me to tell you so, but I have no hesitation saying it.

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