Saturday, July 12, 2008


The Ancient Mariner is that grizzled, old bastard who’s been treading the boards since your parents were kids.  They remember him from touring productions at their colleges or rare TV appearances where they give actors two minutes to feebly perform a scene from a show they’re currently in.  Sad, but they all have to do it at least once.  Your parents have seen him in countless productions and often seek out a show he’s in.  These days he’s like Hackman.  He’s old and good in everything (according to your parents).  In the theatre community, he is a mainstay.  He’s old and crotchety, and for every name-dropping story he tells about this production or that, there’s bound to be two more behind them that are just as boring.  Sure, he gets all the King Lears and Uncle Vanyas, but maybe he’s due.  After all, he’s only getting cast these days for one (if not all) of the following reasons:

            1.  He was one of the few people his age that never ‘gave up the ghost’ – while other actors his age got real jobs in their 30’s and 40’s, he kept at it.  “Quitters,” he would think at the time.  “Guess they never were true actors (AKA participants in real life).”

            2.  He never went union – and why should he have?  “Anybody who’s gone Equity or SAG is nothing but a sell-out,” he would think every once and a while.  “Who needs ‘um?”  And by staying ‘community,’ he thereby stayed connected to ‘real’ or ‘fringe’ theatre.  In a way, keeping his ‘street cred’ (AKA inability to be seen by union houses or other union actors as ‘castable’ once he reached his 40’s without his ‘card’).

            3.  He outlived his competition – if it’s not 1 or 2, it’s usually 3, the hardest fact of them all.  Given the right genes/environment/health choices, the Ancient Mariner will usually outlive a huge majority of actors, given that most of them smoke.

Generally, the Ancient Mariner would have played Lear an average of three times before his liver shuts down.







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