By Shane & Erica Peterman
As most of you know, our family welcomed a new addition in August. He’s a happy and healthy little boy who just hit one month old! And you probably also know that Ms. Keeli, co-owner of the Rockwall Studio, welcomed a precious baby girl several months ago as well. Thank you so much to all of you who have sent our families your blessings, welcome gifts, and well wishes. We feel extremely fortunate.
People tend to characterize times like this as a beginning—and certainly the birth of a baby is about as “beginning” as it gets! But the interesting thing about beginnings is that they don’t always happen at the beginning. Sometimes they happen right smack in the middle of other equally important things. When you already have a 10-year-old child, for example. Or when you’re halfway through a school year. Or when you’ve already begun rehearsals. Beginnings can happen at any moment, when we can’t simply start over.
The iconic playwright Neil Simon, who recently passed away at the age of 91, gave an acceptance speech for an award he received in 1983, and in it, he stated, “The actor is the bravest soul I know. My god, it’s hard to be an actor.” He went on to admire the courage with which actors must put the entirety of their selves up for judgment in front of faceless producers in the dark of a theater house, often with a 90% chance of rejection. And they do it over and over again, fearlessly. Simon said, “It requires such dedication to your craft and to the work you’ve chosen for your life, that I’m sure if Equity posted a sign backstage that said, ‘Any actor auditioning for this show who gets turned down will automatically be shot,’ you’d still only get about a 12% turn away.”
Why? Why such ferocious commitment, despite the fear of failing? Despite the staggering odds stacked against us? And more importantly, how? How do we prepare ourselves for that?
We believe it’s because actors, by necessity, must learn the art of perspective. We can’t allow ourselves to get stuck in a one-track, black or white focus. Whether we get the part or not, we’re simply facing a new beginning. When we’re working with directors and producers, and we’re asked to shift gears or take a new approach, it’s not a criticism—it’s another new beginning. And we should work to welcome these new beginnings—whenever they occur, and whatever they mean—because they force us to pause and get our bearings, and then see our lives and our work with a fresh pair of eyes.
If acting is living truthfully, then we must accept the truth that life isn’t perfectly linear. We all have pauses and interruptions and changes, and they happen in no particular order. That’s the beauty of life, this lack of predictability that, though it repeatedly brings us to the edge, also affords us these blessed opportunities to begin again.
Is it hard work, this constant refreshing of perspective?
You better believe it. Neil Simon got it right.
But as we sit here with our new beginning, even after the sleep deprivation and the adjustments we are having to make as a family of four, we also believe that it’s worth the effort—both on stage and off.