“What Is Our Work Worth?”
by Ellenor Riley-Condit
When I ask myself questions about the monetary value of work in the theater, particularly as an actor, I tend to get kerfluffled really quickly. Sometimes it feels like artists who make physical objects may have a more streamlined process for figuring out their worth. Whether you’re a painter, a baker, a whittler, or an artisanal cat toy maker, if your art form results in a physical object, perhaps you can figure out slightly more easily how much that object should cost? Obviously that’s an extreme generalization on my part, but it feels like a grass-is-greener type of thought process: Maybe if I used my labor to paint paintings instead of make plays, I would be more clear about how much money my labor is worth. Questions of value feel more confusing (and even more dangerous for self-esteem) when I, the actor, am thinking about myself as the product.