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.