Friday, September 16, 2011

You Hate Me! You Really Hate Me!

I have just been hit with one of the nastiest insults I've ever received. It was from a young actor that I'd just offered a fine part. He told me, in so many words, that the word on the street in the St. Louis acting community is I'm an intolerant bigot who fosters a horrendous working environment, and that I'd have to assure him I'd change my ways if he were going to accept the part and work with me. The kid is probably 24. I'm 50. I've been earning a living as an actor, producer and director since before he was born. And I'm offering him paying work, but he's lecturing me about who I am and what I do and how wrong it all is.

This scuttlebutt about the real me he heard from some of the pagan and atheist actors I foolishly cast in Theater of the Word shows over the years. Now I have worked with lots of pagans and atheists and gays and Lesbians and freaks and drug addicts and you name it - the motley neurotics and narcissists who populate this business - from the beginning - not an easy thing to do for an intolerant bigot. But when it comes to Theater of the Word Incorporated, it seems that if I put non-Christians in shows that seek to honor Jesus, their skin starts to crawl and I'm the one to blame for it.

As to the working environment, well, we don't put up with drug use, diva fits or promiscuity. We simply provide good direction, pay, and the promise that if everyone works hard we'll encourage them and guide them and if they don't, we'll get rid of them for the sake of the show and the other actors.

But here's the kicker - the actors who weren't Christian and who used to take work from me thinking evangelizing through drama was just an acting gig like any other acting gig were either drawn closer to the Church (we've had quite a few converts along the way) or (more likely) reacted violently against the Church sooner or later while on tour. I even suspect some of the actresses who took work in our pro-life show had probably had abortions that they'd never repented of or grieved over and naively assumed they could appear in a show that reveals the horror of abortion and not have it effect them.

But sooner or later it did, and sooner or later the Holy Spirit stirred things up and the next thing you know they're telling other actors how bigoted and intolerant I am.

Lord, what fools we actors be!

Update: I elaborate on this a bit more in this post: Persons of the Drama.


Anonymous said...

The first thing I thought when seeing the picture of Sally Field was "put 'em away, old lady." Then, I thought that you're getting off easier than St. Genesius- so far. This might be an answer to your 40 Days of preparation to his Feast.

Anonymous said...

"getting off easier" doesn't sound right now that it's permanently on the internet. I meant that being insulted for the Faith is less of a martyrdom than being tortured and beheaded. But, good and faithful servant, you may be called to much more to defend the Faith someday. I'm offering prayers to St. Genesius for you and for the punk who insulted you and The Faith.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Thanks, Doc. The thing is Our Lord is a sign of contradiction and always has been. We should not be suprised then we we too are "spoken against".

Mark Holgate said...

"bigoted and intolerant" merely means "doesn't support my debauched lifestyle." I must admit, I'm amazed you do explictly religious work with secular artists, even including those opposed to the faith. I've done similar, but not missional or evangelistic pieces.

It's funny, isn't it? The same people think nothing of clumsy nihilistic preaching and ranting (it's 'realistic' and 'authentic')but mention Jesus in a show and they run for the hills. Power in the Name, methinks.

Professionally, they are way out of whack. You're offering actors paid work - they should be singing halleujah! Many have dumped their faith for less in the secular sphere ;)

Kevin O'Brien said...

Mark, I used to assume what my friend Kelly said in my combox over on Facebook, that an actor should be able to take on any role, regardless of his own personality. I also used to think that the experience of being around Christian actors would be a good thing for a non-Christian. I found that, on the contrary, the "power of the name" is an issue, as is the "sign of contradiction". It's not just an acting gig, it's a vocation.

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall a biblical warning, something about pearls and swine and... oh right -- CASTING.

Kevin said...

"bigoted and intolerant" merely means "doesn't support my debauched lifestyle."

From experience I'd have to offer a revision: it means "doesn't donate millions to elect legislators who will enact the death sentence for anyone who doesn't adopt every debauchery I do as the state religion" See latest air from the head of Glenn "people who value gender differences will have to ‘die off’" Close for illustration:

I mean when young actors are worshipping such dim wits as this old broad's evidently are, and the pop culture town criers fall over themselves to shame anyone who hasn't rushed out and coughed up a few dozen bucks to sit through it for a hundred and something minutes... (her "gender bending") as some kind of breakthrough in art history... when the whole act from stem to stern is merely a canny marketing ruse for bigger box office take on her carefully focus-grouped latest business venture... Ve grow too soon old, und too late schmartt.

Anonymous said...

How cruel and immature prejudice is! Makes one a victim and/or a complete dumbo!

Have an idea of such a situation; a well known singer was gossiped on alot at higher secondary school when i was 18 about 4 years ago; one day this singer and I ended up in the same tutorial class together and while waiting for our teacher to come, I kick all those stories I was exposed to out of my head - which I never took them for real in the 1st place to be honest - and got the chance to get to know her.
She was - IS in fact a very genuine person. All it takes is to step away from that "I-know-you-FAR-too-well" attitude and be a mature person by making your own conclusions about the person in question directly & ADMIT you know not even an ounce about them. At least a good number did that for me :)
Shame i don't live in the same country as you though, would have gladly accepted to take part instead of that guy.

KathleenLundquist said...

I'm a Catholic singer (both for church and doing pop/folk music in coffeehouses) and sometime actor. Recently I decided to update my website,, and I met with a web designer friend in a local coffee shop to discuss the project.

A few days later, I got (anonymous) hate mail through the website, telling me the website was "awful" and I was "worthless". (Apparently, one of the other more-tolerant-than-thou coffeeshop denizens overhearing our conversation didn't like what they heard.)

I'll tell you what, it really stung. I'm looking at it with an eye toward experiencing the Lord in the midst of it, though, and I'm learning from the pain with Christ as my companion. It's my hope that I'll become a better person - and better performer - as a result.

It's good to have your company on this path as well. You certainly have mine.

KathleenLundquist said...

BTW, the title of this post is perfect. :)