About a week and a half ago, George Hunka welcomed the new daughter of Reverend Billy into the world and then said, probably not all that seriously:
"Perhaps the blogosphere can now take up the burning question of day-care centers for the children of playwrights, musicians and performance artists. But we're changing the world, one child at a time ..."
Frankly, having children in the world of the performing arts is a real challenge, especially for those of us with prospects for income that are close to doodley-squat, as Kurt Vonnegut might say.
I'm 34 and while in the middle of Indiana I'd probably be a father of three already, most of my friends are bravely moving into this phase of life now. My actor/director/all-around performer friends Sean and Rohana are married with two children. Qui Nguyen and Abby Marcus have a son. Joshua James has a son. My friend David DelGrosso and his wife Erica have a little girl on the way. George Hunka is a father, of course. To name a few.
In the world of two income households, it's harder and harder to imagine large families. But in the arts, especially the transitory world of theater, having a family is a decision that comes with almost dire risks. As a community, we reward each other for flexibility, the ability to move around quickly and easily, the ability to take projects that offer little to no financial reward besides cab money. Being a parent comes with it an inherent cost-benefit analysis of all our activity. How much time can we have for artistic expression that doesn't pay, when our decisions affect the comfort and health of someone helpless?
Have you wrestled with this decision? If so, what made you decide to begin a family? Or what made you decide not to? Or are you still thinking about it as a hypothetical?
If you have, or are starting, a family... how has it affected your approach to your work in theater, if at all?
Update: A thoughtful and personal response from George.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.