Brendan McCall replied 20th Apr '14:
The Privilege of Performing
This is based on my own personal and professional experience working in the performing arts since 1986 on 5 continents.
A colleague is on the job "moaning all the time"? I would need far greater information and details, before I could reply sufficiently.
I´m presuming that these moans spawn from a feeling of unrest and discontent. Probably the first order of business is to determine if this angst is real or imagined, based on truth or fantasy.
Sometimes a moan, a gripe, a complaint, is expressed over a perceived injustice. Is there something wrong in the workplace? Is there corruption above you, whether it be the theater specifically or the society within which you are operating in? What choices are available to you to act & respond? What consequences are there for speaking up, in this context? And is what you are complaining about, moaning about, worth those consequences?
Some people act, write, and direct for theater in countries where they literally get arrested for doing their work. However, I never see these people complain. If anything, such oppression only galvanizes them to work harder, to renew their level of commitment, and to become closer together as collaborators and as people. Belarus Free Theatre is an excellent example of this.
Others complain out of habit. Some have a legitimate cause for concern. It depends on the situation, the person. There is no single answer, no "one size fits all" response to this hypothetical question.
I will say this: theater, while a singular passion in my life for the past 28 years, is essentially a privilege to do. People´s lives are not in my hands, like if I was a surgeon, or an airline pilot, or a politician whose decisions would influence the fate of many. My field of influence is modest. The fact that I get to work on a play in whatever capacity--actor, director, writer, producer, choreographer--is a luxury unfortunately not afforded to everyone to the same extent as I have been able to enjoy it.
Bringing a play to life, from script to stage or from concept to devised performance, is hard enough without unnecessary moaning and groaning. Yes, of course it is hard, at times. Yes, it sucks that this field is so impoverished compared to others. Yes, there are a million things to do, all the time, beyond the artistic side of things. But didn´t you know that starting out? And even if they didn´t....now you know, so let´s get on with it. If you have that much energy to identify the problem(s), that shows me that you have at least as much energy to find at least one creative and constructive solution.
Artistic Director, Ensemble Free Theater Norway