Exit, Pursued by a Bear

by Jacob Coakley
Outgoing SD Editor Jacob Coakley
Outgoing SD Editor Jacob Coakley

I’ve been editor of Stage Directions for nearly 10 years. This issue is my 115th as editor—and my last. I’m moving to a new job in the theatre industry and Michael S. Eddy will be taking over as Editor-in-Chief. (You can read more about this in the story in our Greenroom section.)  

 

Through all those issues, I’ve learned a few things. (Some more important than others...) I figured my last editor’s note would be a great place to share some of them. 

Don’t drink milk before a show. 

If you’re a performer, it messes up your throat. If you’re anyone else it could mean a very inopportune trip to the restroom. 

Don’t let the work take advantage of you. 

I hate the cliche “Only pursue a career in theatre if you can’t do anything else.” It asks people to accept that since they can’t do anything else they are dependent on theatre. This creates an attitude that is accepting of abuse as people will do anything and put up with everything in order to prove that they deserve a job—since they’ve already accepted they can’t do anything else. Theatre should not abuse its participants—in ways little or horrific. The art we make is valuable but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the artists making it. 

Look for discounted tickets, but don’t hesitate to buy the full price ones. 

I’m not saying you need to spend $5,000 to see Hamilton, but don’t decide to skip a show simply because there aren’t any discounted seats. The memory of a show will stay with you a lot longer than the credit card bill. The brilliant shows I missed because I wouldn’t spring for a ticket still cause me pangs of regret. 

Have a mission statement. 

If you know what your mission is, even personally (scratch that, especially personally), then it’s easy to know when you’re doing things that don’t advance that mission. And it’s easier to take criticism and collaborate—because it’s no longer about you or your ego, it’s about the work. You’ll be able to do your best because your thinking won’t be clouded wondering how something makes you look—because it won’t be about you, it will be about the work. 

Speak into the microphone. 

Learn microphone skills. Know how to communicate about yourself, about your story, about your art. Do so clearly and simply and people will respond. I will respond. This job has continually nourished and energized me thanks to your energy, your passion, your love for the art and your dedication to making it better. Thank you for sharing it with me. It’s been a privilege I never could have imagined when I began. Thanks all for reading—and I’ll see you backstage!