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A Response to: An Open Letter to Younger Generations by David Ferry

This comment has been getting such great attention on Facebook that I thought it was only fair to repost it here. This is a response to David Ferry’s letter about the younger generation, original post here: http://praxistheatre.com/2012/07/an-open-letter-to-the-newer-generations-of-toronto-theatre-artists-from-one-of-the-old-farts/

Dear David Ferry:

Putting aside the fear of never being hired again, here’s my response.

I have not been as fortunate as some of my colleagues. Since graduating school I’ve had to wait tables, temp, work two jobs sometimes, and give my time and energy to productions that couldn’t afford to pay me, and even more shamefully, to some that could but chose not to because I was part of the ‘younger generation’ and therefore should be grateful just to have a place on their stage.

As I moved into self producing, the industry was supportive, but lukewarm. While many expressed a desire to see me succeed, they did so from a distance, taking care to not appear too invested. Maybe it was because they didn’t want to be disappointed. Or maybe it was because they didn’t want to appear to be associated with a disappointing event. Despite the fact that I co-created one of the most innovative advancements in theatre technology, I couldn’t for the life of me get any sort of media representation. Despite the fact that I’ve made over $30,000 as an independent artist since graduating school, I didn’t get an agent until last year, because I was “young”. Despite the fact that I know the union clauses back to front, and went through months of negotiations last year in order to make sure that Hamlet Live was a union co-op, I’ve been deemed ‘not ready’ to join the union. Despite all of my work, my effort and my attempts to be recognized I continue to be patted on the head and told that I’m cute, while I watch people 10 years older than me get cast in roles for my age range.

Why are people so much more outspoken in all those other places? Because they’re respected. Because their work gets seen. Because they are regarded as a vital part of the community. I respect Mr Ferry and all that he said in his letter. He’s absolutely right. The younger generation should be speaking out. But why must we be the younger generation? Why can’t we just be the community? Aren’t we a part of it too? Because I’ve felt like I’m on the outside looking in for far too long. And why is that? Why will no one listen to me when I’m making art? Why is it such a struggle to be heard in this community? I’m tired of sitting at the kiddie table.

Now you want my opinion? Yeah, it sucks. Yes I signed the petition. Yes I want things to change. I wish I could tell a great story about how Ken Gass and I connected but the truth is we never have, because I’ve never been seen for anything. So I have no heartfelt letter to write about how personally I am pained by what happened at Factory. All I can do is look at this from the outside and say “Wow, that’s not right.” But to write an article, a letter, a complaint about it? To go public in that capacity would make no sense. Because the community doesn’t recognize me. I haven’t been heard in any other capacity, so why do you want to listen now?

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