NYC New Member Reception
"Do it for love, do it for money, do it for both if you can - but never for neither.
--- MacIntyre Dixon, New Member Reception Guest Speaker
Fall New Member Reception Class of 2011
Veteran Actor MacIntyre Dixon was Guest Speaker at the AEA Fall Eastern Region New Member Reception held on September 19th, 2011 in New York City. Attending the full house event were New Members originally hailing from Ohio, Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, Arizona, Connecticut, London, Toronto, Tokyo and Cuba. The event was hosted by Tom Miller, Equity's Director of Outreach and Career Development and sponsored by the Eastern Region Membership Education Committee. Mr. Dixon is currently performing the role of "The Old Actor" in the Off Broadway production of THE FANTASTICKS.
He was introduced by Councillor Bill Bateman, with whom he is sharing a dressing room at THE FANTASTICKS. Mr. Dixon began by telling a story about an old actor who, when microphones first came in, declined to use one, saying, "The day I have to use a machine to be heard I no longer want to appear." And someone in the back of the house shouted out, "Louder, please." That story set the tone for an interesting, funny and totally enjoyable experience for a full house of new Equity members.
The story of how he joined Equity is one of great good luck. He and two college friends (one was Richard Libertini) had put together a revue called Stewed Prunes, which was playing in the coffeehouses in Greenwich Village. They were appearing on Bleecker Street in 1960 and playing to five or six people a night when a critic from The New York Times decided to do a story about Village coffeehouses and the beatnik period, and he wandered into their show. "He ended up writing the whole article about us and our show and the next night there was a line waiting to get in. That was fantastic, because otherwise we would have performed and died within a week or so and that would have been the end of it. Because of that story we moved to the Circle-in-the-Square Theatre Off-Broadway and we joined Equity. I mention this because every job for the next ten or 15 years sort of sprung from that one show; one thing led to another and it was just a tremendous happenstance that it all happened. I'm forever grateful that we had that and it made my life, my career, as an Actor". Eventually, Stewed Prunes ended up as a two-person act "which Richard and I still, on occasion, resurrect. It's more difficult now that Richard lives in LA...but maybe we'll do it again before we drop".
Asked if he would do anything differently in his career, Mr. Dixon said that "everything worked so well for me." But, he added, he might have liked to have found something creative to do when he wasn't acting. "The hardest part of being an actor is when you're not acting. It would have been wonderful to have had another creative outlet in between jobs. I've always envied people who had that." He also regretted that he was always reluctant to go out of town, afraid he might lose a New York job. However, he said he felt "very lucky" about his career "because one of the things I wanted to do as an Actor was variety and I really had a lot of that and I'm very grateful. I got to do comedy and drama; I got to do musicals and Shakespeare."
Mr. Bateman asked if there was one role or kind of theatre that he would love to have done. Mr. Dixon responded that he "always had that fantasy idea of playing the title role of Hamlet," though it never came to be, he did have the opportunity to play the Gravedigger in HAMLET. "There are two things that I discovered that were the greatest things about acting, besides performing on stage," he said. One was "the experience of traveling to places that I would never have gotten to, and to be able to do it with my family," like Japan and Malta and England. "Those are some of the greatest memories for me, one of the great things about acting. The other was being able to spend as much time with my son as I was able to spend, because an ordinary working person doesn't have that opportunity, but when we're unfortunately out of work, we do have that time and that was one of the great things, too."
When the floor was opened for a Q&A, a new member asked "How do you keep reinventing yourself as an artist?" Answer: "I like to think that you're kind of forced into it, because you don't know what roles are going to be coming. I had some wonderful surprises, some things that I never thought I'd be doing, and I always tried to approach them creatively, trying to be as free as possible and growing into the part."
His advice to newcomers would be "to love what you're doing and do what you love. And always go for what you love, don't do something for love or money, but hopefully for both, but never for neither. And to do it with all your heart." He also said it was important to always "keep your creative juices going. That will do amazing things for your spirit." He said for years he resented going to auditions. "But I eventually realized I always feel great afterwards, even if I didn't do well, because I feel like I'm an actor again."
Final question of the afternoon: Do you have any advice about how we should handle our millions when they start coming in? Answer: I like the way you think.
During the Reception, Equity's newest Members received informational packets, and raffles were held featuring Equity, Actors Federal Credit Union and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids giveaways. There was also a warm celebratory toast welcoming attendees to Equity membership. Equity Staff representatives talked with New Members about Agents, Auditions and Professional Integrity.
NYC New Member Receptions are held several times a year. If you were unable to attend the most recent event, the next Reception will be held in the Spring. Watch Equity's website for date and time.
Mr. Dixons' Broadway credits include: CYRANO DE BERGERAC, PRELUDE TO A KISS, GYPSY, THE CRUCIBLE, GETTING AND SPENDING, 1776, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, THE TEMPEST, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, 3 PENNY OPERA, BROADWAY BOUND, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, ONCE IN A LIFETIME, OVER HERE! and TWIGS. Off-Broadway credits include: COMIC POTENTIAL, ARMS AND THE MAN, ROOM SERVICE, HAMLET, LITTLE MURDERS, THE TEMPEST, TOM FOOLERY, and SECOND CITY. Films credits include: SCHOOL OF ROCK, IN AND OUT, A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, THE DREAM TEAM, FUNNY FARM, BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS, POPEYE, and REDS. Since the 1960's, Mr. Dixon, along with Richard Libertini has performed and toured in their own nightclub comedy revue entitled STEWED PRUNES.
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