If not, why then this parting was well made.”
Julius Caesar – Act V Scene 1
Anthony Ridley sat alone in the men’s dressing room. Outside in the green room, an ensemble of 19 to 22 year-old college kids were cacophonous. The man, working among children, went about applying his makeup and his line recitals undisturbed for a few moments. As soon as the other actors made their way into the dressing room, with some like me late for their call, the chatter began, and it became unbearable for him. Here was an equity actor providing a living example of how to be a professional of the craft, and here was my 19 year-old self acting like a futureless hack. I remembered thinking, when Anthony accepted the role of Shylock in Merchant of Venice, how much fun it was going to be to work with him in this setting. I had assumed we would smoke cigarettes, and he would regale us with stories from his days in NYC. Like most things I discovered in the early years of adulthood, being a pro was not something one could simply turn on and off as one pleased. Effort, dedication, and focus were three facets of the craft that were necessary to succeed, and I was void of all three. Anthony, whom I generally enjoyed as my Theater Arts teacher, became the bane of my existence during the run of this show. He barked at me and the others who he perceived to be taking the production less than seriously. He would storm out of the dressing room and recite his lines outside, as I thought to myself how little fun he must be having. It turned out that his performance was extraordinary, and mine was monochromatic, at best. In this show, he was a beautiful master on the stage, and I was a punk.