Falling With Style: Split Focus- The Dangers Of Using A Slash In Your Title

Helen Laroche is trying to bridge the great divide.

Do you have more than one job? If you are a theater-maker of any kind, the answer’s likely yes. I’ll bet that you or someone you know is an actor/teaching artist/technical writer/klingon interpreter.

So many Bay Area artists operate as weeknight warriors, working one job during the day and making theater at night (or some variation on that theme). But how many of us use the skills from our day job to better our theater work, and vice versa? I fear that, for many, the slash signifies a split focus rather than two jobs that work in tandem towards a single career.

I’m no stranger to the slash. It used to figure prominently in my life, ever since I was a Biology/Voice major in college. It followed me into my 20s, and in my folly, I went one step further: I got a stage name. When I got married, I kept on using my maiden name as my “performer” brand, and I used my new married name as my “corporate” brand.

What a mistake. Not only was it confusing, but it felt as though I was split down the middle. My skills, energy and attention were silo-ed into either performing or my day job. And because of that, I couldn’t achieve flow.

In building two separate brands, I had intended to heed Robert Frost’s call to “unite / my avocation and my vocation / as my two eyes make one in sight.” Obviously, I’d misinterpreted what he meant and gone cross-eyed instead. So, I pulled an about-face, got rid of the dividing wall that was the slash, and now go by my married name in all things.

Admittedly, the internet makes it particularly scary and vulnerable to unite all my interests under a single name. It would be nice to have a mentor guide me through the discomfort (I wonder if Brené Brown or Anne Lamott participate in any community theater?), but ultimately, I think it helps paint an authentic, though imperfect, picture of who I am and what I’m passionate about.

And it helps me recognize that the actor, teaching artist, technical writer and klingon interpreter in me can all learn from one another!

Helen Laroche lives in the Bay Area with her husband and their animals. Learn about her upcoming projects at www.helenlaroche.com.