This is my second week at Touchstone, and things are shaping up. I'm going to help out with sound on a show opening in two weeks. It's a one man show, based on the writings of Henry Thoreau. I have operated sound approximately twice in my life, but, as Touchstone's producing director said, you don't have to be a genius to get it right. You just have to pay attention. I think I can manage that.
However, I still don't have a secondary job (of the kind where you actually get paid), and I'm starting to get worried. Not extremely worried, but a little bit, quand même. My plan was to give French lessons, but I don't know to what extent the citizens of Bethlehem, PA are desperately needing to learn French. Although I have had a few people enquiring about my services, nothing concrete (ie. a meeting) has emerged yet. And today, as I was checking Craigslist, lo and behold, someone was advertising French tutoring for 15 dollars an hour, when I suggested 20. Damn it! I've been outbid !!! How to undo my mistake? Write another craigslist ad, suggesting 15 dollars?
I also have other leads, but, there again, nothing much has come out of my efforts. Today, I printed some ads, and went around pinning them on bulletin boards (I was careful not to mention tarification). Since I'm not extremely gutsy and fear confrontation, I didn't always go into shops to convince the people there to put my ads in a prominent place in their boutiques. But I did manage to get ads pinned in a coffee shop, at the local supermarket, and at the local university. I will continue to sell myself (however awkwardly), and hope for a surge of francophiles desperately seeking my services for their lives to be complete - one can always dream... it's free! D'ailleurs, it has to be said that bulletin boards are underated. After all, that is how I got one really stable tutoring job which lasted two years, when I was at Royal Holloway university. Mrs Tan was going to Tesco, and BAM! she saw my ad. At which point she exclaimed (in her head) "How wonderful! It just so happens that my daughter needs extra help with her French. I'm going to take down this tutor's number, call her and give her a job!" And that was it. I was able to feel a little bit less of a useless student, and a little bit more like I was contributing towards my expenses (at something like 10 pounds an hour, an hour a week, It hardly paid for the entrance to the student's union, but you know, it was a first step in the right direction). Except that now, I'm not a student anymore, and I'm getting a bit old to rely solely on family help. Enfin bref. I hope someone will answer my call, and I will continue to search and think of other legal ways to make money.
Of course, if I knew how to drive and owned a car, the story would most likely be quite different. This will come as a surprise to no one, but it might be useful to reiterate that the USA is all about cars and roads. Even if one lives in a walkable city - which is my case - not having a car is a hindrance. In my fantasy picture of Bethlehem, I had grown to believe that it was a major city, a little bit like Philadelphia, but that no one knew it yet, because it hadn't been discovered... in the same way that a debutante actress isn't famous, not because she has no talent, but just because she hasn't been in the limelight long enough.
Well, in reality, Bethlehem is a nice-sized town, and there are things to do, sure, but it ain't Philly, sweetie. The transportation system limits itself to buses, and I will need to get a bike to be a bit more mobile.
Looking for some night time entertainment one evening (the TV in the house doesn't work, and we don't have an internet connection...), Zach - fellow apprentice and housemate- and I thought we'd go to a bar which promised open mic comedy. When we arrived, there was none of that. Just a bar, with a quirky bar girl. So, we had a few beers, and chuckled at the fact that we had moved far - him from Florida and me from Paris - to come to... Bethlehem. It is kind of funny, when you think about it. We really must be pretty hard-core theatre geeks to put all our faith in one little theatre. Or, just desperate to learn so that, one day, we may actually make a living out of theatre. Ha! That, actually, is the joke. Because who in their right mind would think that possible? Who in their right mind would want to put in so much work for so little instant gratification?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not having an existential crisis, wondering what the hell I'm doing with my life. On the contrary, I'm quite content being here, working for turnips in an old steel town. But I do wonder why I chose theatre in the first place. More precisely, I wonder why I rarely question my choice of working in that field. When did I choose to do this? There was no light-bulb moment, no amazing revelation, with a host of jazz-hand angels surrounding me and whispering Shakespeare verses in my ear... nope. Just a series of great experiences, year after year of original school plays. Those plays did the trick, I think. I loved every bit of the play, except maybe the auditions. I loved rehearsals - especially the ones that lasted all day in the delapidated tram station of the Pont de Sèvres. I loved dress rehearsals, and even tech rehearsals. And of course, performance time. And I absolutely hated the day after the final show. Back to reality was really, really hard.
I suppose I've wanted to replicate that school play feeling ever since. I think that's it. I got hooked! Completely and utterly hooked to the whole process. Theatre is my drug. That's why it can't just be a hobby, and that's why I need to keep on learning how to balance my life between theatre and the real world.
Man, I've been babbling. I apologise. Shorter entry next time, I promise!