Falling With Style: Come The Revolution, What Will You Call Yourself?

Helen Laroche is on the outs with the form.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, and it boils down to this: I think theater and I are on a break.

I had a conversation with a friend recently. Let’s call her Susan. Susan is a young San Francisco-based director, and like me, she’s in a stable relationship, trying to figure out where art fits in her life. At lunch one day, Susan and I talked about art, and theater, and her recent realization that every theater-maker she’s met has a slightly different reason for doing theater. Some people do theater for the rush of being on stage. Some do it to help heal themselves and others. Some people want to escape, want to be told they’re good, want a position of power, want to be famous. And then each of us admitted a fear, that perhaps our personal reasons for doing theater aren’t potent enough the keep the fire going indefinitely.

“But what happens if the fire does go out?” Susan was concerned about losing her “one line bio” identity as an artist. “When I ‘came out’ to my family as an artist,” she said, “they railed against it but finally accepted it. So what right have I to change my mind again?”

I’ve been thinking about our conversation a lot because I’ve noticed myself pulling myself out of the audition circuit. I don’t like my new headshot. I’m not proud of my technique. It’s not fun anymore.

I’ve lost the love.

And like in any relationship, that’s no surprise. Love waxes and wanes, and sometimes it lies fallow for a scary amount of time. It usually comes back — but knowing that intellectually doesn’t make it any less scary emotionally. The one-phrase bio of my existence is in peril! As I said to Susan, “If I’m not a theater person, who am I?”

The question comes at a time where a lot of the things that could potentially define me are in flux. In the past month, I sold my car and quite a few of my possessions, reached the end date of my internship, and signed a lease on a San Francisco apartment after living on the peninsula for half a dozen years.

When I started this column, I thought I’d be sharing my journey towards being a Bay Area theater artist. But you can only steer your life so much — sometimes the Flying Spaghetti Monster has other sauces for you to try. My creativity stores are feeling quite low right now, so my next few columns will focus on attempts in the upcoming weeks to replenish my artsy mojo.

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