The closest I’ve come to really liking social media is when I view it as a platform for myself and others to create art, share our stories, promote our work, and be audiences for one another.
This past March I gave up on it because I’d become a bad audience member and a blocked creator. A bad audience member because I felt jealous all the time of what I saw others accomplishing and a blocked creator because I felt pressure to express outrage at what was going on in the world but was scared to share it.
So I retreated. And this retreat coincided with a retreat from the literal stages I’d been performing on as well.
My future in theatrical performance is uncertain. I’m not sure what I’ll do next or even what I want. It’s a time of change that feels similar to when I left academia but then I knew I was ready to leave completely. And now I feel like I’m not yet done with performing.
I saw a show this past week in London that confirmed these feelings—The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe Theatre. I’d seen As You Like It at the Globe a year before. And it was to my absolute delight (a phrase I don’t use often) that the actor who I’d loved as Jaques in the prior year’s production was playing Falstaff in the show I saw this year. Seeing this actor (Pearce Quigley) on stage and witnessing his ability to send the audience roaring with laughter at seemingly simple moves rekindled everything I love about being on stage (and being a good audience member as well). It was a privilege to see him play once but to have the opportunity to see him twice in two different roles was incredible.
We all play parts, and those parts change over the course of our lives (as Jaques details in his “All the world’s a stage” monologue in As You Like It). What’s weird about social media is how much it calls upon us to capture and reflect on the part we’re playing. I see it everywhere I go on my travels—people taking pictures that define them in some way: sexy world traveler in front of a skyline, funny guy next to a nude statue, person with their hand on top of the Louvre pyramid (it’s an angle thing).
It’s not that I don’t want to share myself anymore. It’s more that I’ve become hyper aware of the ways that I’m constructing my part, especially as my identity is shifting. I want to know more about who I am now and what venues make sense for me to share my work before I put myself out there again—both in the world of performance and on social media.
For now, I’ll stick with what’s comfortable. Posting weekly on this website and sharing an image of myself with Shakespeare (of whom I’m a big fan).
“I am who I choose to be. I always have been what I chose, though not always what I pleased.”
-Lois McMaster Bujold