When I lived in Chicago, I didn't do any shows--not one, but I did audition once for Second City, which is one of the best improv troupes in the country; Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi and Gilda Radner and Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert started there. I don't recall much about my audition, except that I wasn't funny. None of us were. It was a dismal audition. I think there were like four of us onstage and we had to pretend we were looking down at a dead body. I think I might have at some point pantomimed using a rope. Horrifying.
I've continued to take theater classes on and off at the various schools I've worked. I was allowed to take an advanced acting class when I worked at Penn State and that was so odd--I was like 35 at the time and everyone else was 21 and it was like this strange time travel thing where I was bad in the classroom, but older and so not so easily impressed and much less self-conscious. I did a scene from Night Mother with one of the other girls. Originally, the teacher cast me as the mom (of course), but then I asked him if Rose and I could switch, because I identified more with the suicidal, epileptic daughter. He said okay and we did the scene and it was really good. I mean, I cried and the teacher had to stop me at the door and tell me to stay with him, so it must have been good, right?
I was always good at acting but not amazing and I knew that the chances of succeeding were so very small and it would require me to be a waitress for the rest of my life while hoping to get a walk-on part in a GEICO commercial. And I was terrible at the sucking up part. And enduring pretentiousness like you've never seen. And lying about how good something was. And going to community theater-run musicals, which was ultimately what made it impossible for me to pursue. But mostly, it was because I didn't love it enough, and didn't have the talent or determination to do it. And yet, a part of me still waits to get discovered some day.
Here's a scene from Waiting for Guffman that accurately illustrates how bad most community musical theater can be.