Finessing the Finances: Ruth Arnell Pt. 4
Finessing the Finances:
The Business of Being a Struggling Actress
The Ruth Arnell Interview Pt. 4
In this, the penultimate part of the Ruth Arnell interview, Ruth talks about the problems of getting work as an actress while finding and maintaining a day job in a really, really bad economy. She recently got paid work carrying a gun, but how does a passion for acting fit in with the practical side of employment and unemployment?
Me: Does [doing extensive work in community theatre] not make it difficult to act full-time?
Ruth: Oh, it makes it really difficult. I mean, you hand your resume in to somebody and . . . y’know . . . and all you’ve got on there is community theatre shows and people assume you don’t know ht you’re doing and that’s hard sometimes . . . because I do think I know what I’m doing as much as anybody can. I’m comfortable doing it. I love doing it. And I think I have some skill in it, but it is hard when you turn in your resume and you go—“I know hat you’re lookin’ t on there-I know . . .
Me: But, you ARE looking for those [paying] roles, though . . .
Ruth: Well, you know, if I go and I audition at the Milwaukee Rep . . . if they’re letting in some people who are not Equity and youwant to do something . . . I don’t want to hold a spear, I want to go do The Philadelphia Story and be Tracy-frickin-Lord. [Here Ruth is referring to her recent turn as the lead role of Tracy-fricken-Lord in a production of the play at Waukesha Civic Theatre.] You know—if these other theatres do these shows, the opportunities are a little bit different. You have to have been paying your dues there for a lot longer to be able to jump into something meatier or more fun. I don’t want to carry on the drinks, I want to be out there the whole show, just playin’ around.
Me: Okay. But obviously that means that you’re not getting as many paying roles.
Ruth: Not as many. No.
Me: So like everybody—even most professional actors who are Equity, you need other work.
Me: You need multiple careers.
Ruth: Yeah, I’m out of work right now. I haven’ had a job since May.
Me: Yeah, the Milwaukee job market isn’t that good.
Ruth: no. It’s terrible.
Me: So you’re between jobs right now.
Ruth: Yes, that’s what I am. Between jobs.
Me: Are you drawing unemployment?
Ruth: Through . . . the end of this week. [laughs]
Ruth: And then I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know. [The date of this interview was 12/09/08. Suffice it to say, things are happening for Ruth who spoke of auditioning for three different productions as recently as the last day of 2008.]
Me: The traditional thing for actors would be to wait tables.
Ruth: yeah. My professional, outside of theatre-based skills are more office-based. And I’m a good person to have around your office . . . I’m honest and hard working and loyal . . . if you have to have an employee overhear that the company is in financial hot water, I’m the employee you WANT to have hear that the company is in financial hot water ‘cause I’m not going to say anything . . . but it seems like nobody’s really looking for that right now.
Me: Have you anything lined-up for acting?
Ruth: I have some auditions. I just got signed with Jennifers.
Ruth: Yeah, Jennifer’s Talent.
Ruth: So far I have auditioned for a Miller promo thing, and shot B Roll footage for a Walgreen’s thing and sold raffle tickets for a Ducks Unlimited Banquet—I carried around a gun.
Ruth: So hopefully that’ll turn into something. It’s also tough right now auditioning for professional shows because I do live so far out and I don’t know when I’m going to start working somewhere. Because if I get something and it turns out to be in Menominee Falls and then I audition for a show downtown . . . I don’t know what my time schedule is going to be like . . . I can’t jeopardize getting a job.
TOMORROW: The transcripts of the talk with Ruth conclude as she discusses life, YouTube and more.
THIS WEEKEND: My review of the Rep Cabaret’s Dogpark: The Musical
NEXT WEEK: Transcripts from my interview with Alchemist Theatre’s Aaron Kopec and more from the Milwaukee stage.