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Looking Back on 50 Years

Well, guys, tomorrow I will be 50! It’s hard for me to believe I’ve reached this age.

I had imagined myself in my 20s that at 50 I’d be an established and well paid actress. I had also imagined myself as having won several awards for my theatrical roles.

My 20s basically consisted of finishing my theatrical touring theater with ART Reach, which I’ve spoken to you about in the past. The tour was in the tri-state area of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. When the tour ended, I had made up my mind to move to New York City and try the acting industry there.

That didn’t exactly pan out the way I had planned. This brings me to my favorite old saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

New York City for me was where I first went to a professional acting school-my first training since my days as an acting student at Indiana University. This was when I was first introduced to “method acting” at Theater In Action on 14th Street in a warehouse in the meat packing district.

My teacher’s name was Lev Schectman who came to New York by way of Russia. He ascribed to the techniques taught by the great Constantin Stanislovski and brought those theories to the acting troup he named Theater in Action.

What was weird about going to that studio for my weekly studies was that there was always a pervasive smell of dead animals as it had been a working meat packing plant. (It was ironic that we would go from the meat packing plant to “cattle calls” for auditions with lots of competition for roles.)

I was unsuccessful at getting an agent in New York City, so every Wednesday along with the thousands of unemployed actors I would pick up a copy of “Back Stage” which had all the auditions listed for the week including mostly off Broadway stuff.

It was from there that I got my first jobs as an actor in what is known as off-off Broadway. They were basically very small theaters off the beaten track which were unpaid and poorly attended.

This takes me into my 30s when I met my then boyfriend Brad and we did a play together. I met him doing “Getting Out of Bed,” which was an off-off Broadway play. From there his career was taking off and he got a job in a new pilot called “Mulberry Street” which was shooting in Los Angeles.

This is how I got to California as I moved out there with him. The show was supposed to be picked up by a network and it seemed like a good time for both of us to move.

Alas, the show was never picked up and Brad and I never worked out either. I chose to stay out in Los Angeles and pursue my career there.

At this point I chose not to put up with the back stabbing prevalent in the industry on the west coast while at the same time the MS was starting to slow me down as well.

I’ve been here in Fulton County since 1995, so my 40s have all been spent here and I have to say as I’m gazing out at the serenity of the lake and mountains I am at peace here at 50.

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site