Andrew Burden Swanson, ensemble cast member of Writers’ Theatre’s A Streetcar Named Desire, details his journey towards joining the production.
About a month and a half ago, I found myself suffering under a common mental strain which plagues nearly every college age theatre artist. Once you find yourself spending hours on end looking through job ads for data entry and temporary administrative assistance, these questions seem more and more like a bag of bricks on your back: “What am I doing in theatre? What have I done spending all this time and money on a profession with so little chance of success at it’s end? What am I worth?”
These sorts of questions can cripple a person’s self esteem, and in the world of theatre (in acting especially) low self-esteem can be a death sentence. The month of April provided me with a perfect platform for these sorts of questions to all come spilling out at once. I was days from finishing the first semester of my sophomore year in college (after three years of study); I was unemployed, and as an actor my experience was less than amateur. I felt five steps behind the starting line after struggling through half a marathon. Needless to say, before the end of April, I was not feeling great about my career choice as an actor. With the level of talent and professionalism in this city, there seemed little room for a kid like me to have any ground to stand on. Before the end of April my path did not seem like the wisest and my morale had suffered from a year of poor auditions and mind-splitting financial woes.
At the end of April, the weather changed and my sails were filled with a surprising, even supernatural wind. Believe it or not, Facebook deserves some thanks. I received a message from an administrator here at Writers’ Theatre requesting my presence to meet with director David Cromer and discuss my potential involvement with his production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which was at that time scheduled to begin previews in eight days or something ridiculous. As is to be expected, I assumed some very cruel friend of mine had played a prank on me, making my response seem rather ominous and maybe even a little insulted. However, much to my enjoyment, the meeting with David took place, our discussion went well, and I was added into a cast filled with actors I had been reading about for years. This play has saved my summer, my chances of returning to college and my faith in myself as an artist. I may never truly discover how this casting choice came into fruition, but I am now,and will forever be grateful to Writers’ Theatre for creating that shift in my life and allowing such a tiny fish into a pond as rich and stocked full of talent as this one.