Blinders and Dung

A Big Life: Encouragement for People in the Arts –

Red Closed Smile

I like getting older.

I like it because every ten years or so my brain explodes. Neurons fire, cells increase, memories connect and event after event that I absorb in life expands my view. I see things I never used to see.

When I was a young performer I had blinders on like the horse in the novel Black Beauty. Like the horse, I dragged a carriage through the city park. I saw the cobbled path which was right in front of me, a few flowers and a whole lot of horse dung.  I had the constant feeling that time was running out.


My play “In Search of the Red Skull” (now “Pirates of the Red Skull”) was invited by PDX Playwrights to be part of the Fertile Ground Theatre Festival

Lately I’ve been around a lot of young artists who are on the cusp of graduating and setting out into the world. I notice these people feel the same burden I felt back in the day. They are exhausted and weighed down with debt and sudden responsibilities. Many of them are working full time at jobs which are not even in their chosen profession. They feel the rush of despair and hear the messages from the world that they’d better “make it” before they are thirty or they have no chance of success.


I directed the West Coast premiere of Teresa Deevy’s play “Temporal Powers”

But the world is not a city park. It is just a small part of the greater landscape filled with forests and trees, rivers and highways and ravines.  It is difficult to explain this to a young person because he or she has been a child for most of life and an adult for only a small portion. An older person has been an adult for most of life and a child for only a small portion.

best cinematography

I starred in “Tomorrow”, Dennis Mulyar’s award-winning film about hope



As an older artist, it is therefore hard for me to explain this but letting go of the dream of being a young hot success has resulted in more rewards than I ever would have expected. It is possible to explode on the landscape as an artist at the age of thirty-two or forty-two or sixty-two. It all depends on how you define success. For me, major highlights of this past year were co-producing a staged reading of my play Pirates of the Red Skull with PDX Playwrights, directing the West Coast premiere of the lost Irish play Temporal Powers, acting in the award-winning film Tomorrow and writing a quirky screenplay called Liberty and Grace.

horse_with_blinders[1]On this New Year’s evening I look forward to continuing my journey along life’s cobbled path. I like to think I have shed my blinders. However, I know that the breathtaking scenery which awaits me is something which I cannot quite yet imagine.

I can’t wait.

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2 Responses to Blinders and Dung

  1. Billy Burgess says:

    Thanks, Katie, for a very inspiring piece. After receiving my BA in Theatre in 1987 I abandoned my dream of going to New York City to pursue a career in acting and writing. The fear of unemployment in my chosen field (and potential underemployment in “day jobs”), along with a couple of physical disabilities I’ve had since birth, prompted me to restrict my acting to community theatre and my writing to the occasional poem or song (few of which were published or performed. Upon relocating from Virgnia to Oregon, I spent fourteen years working as a caregiver, which left virtually no time for writing and acting. Now I’m beginning to pursue professional opportunities as a writer and actor (at age 51) with a co-written short film ready to be made when funding is achieved. As a writer, I’m in the early stages of creating both a feature and a webseries pilot, and possibly co-writing another on an idea a friend has. I also plan to start auditioning as an actor in the Portland area this year. Dedication to your craft and persistence CAN pay off at any age, and “success” is how you define it for yourself. Happy New Year, Katie, and thanks again!

  2. Lily Chavez says:

    I like how you said “you like getting older” because not a lot of people can say that. It is good you feel optimistic about the years ahead of you. I can tell the profession of being an actor is hard because it’s such a competitive area.

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