Back in March we reported on the bizarre and debilitating illness that had forced performer Kate Eifrig to take an extended break from performing.
This weekend the Star Tribune reported Eifrig has decided that break is a permanent one.
“I’ve been very fortunate with work, which has kept me putting one foot in front of the other, which is what it always comes down to,” said Eifrig. “But the personal toll was too great. Nobody likes to talk about the tremendous financial insecurity of it all. You win a McKnight [fellowship] and do a show on the Guthrie stage, and people can’t quite believe that you have to get government assistance. You live public and very glamorous lives, and yet you have to go around the house and sell anything you can get your hands on to make the bills. If you worked every week of the year, you would make only about $30,000 a year. How are you going to pay the mortgage or keep your health insurance? Combine those with a medical issue and … ,” her voice trailed off.
“I know a lot of people who have severe anxiety and depression who are actors,” she continued. “Acting sometimes can be like a fun house of mirrors. Everything is distorted and nothing is true. It is fun to lose yourself in it, slip into someone else’s soul. But in this business, burnout is inevitable. I’ve been experiencing this sense of aging very quickly. I’m now playing myself, and it’s the hardest role I’ve ever played.”
On a positive note, Eifrig’s friends and fellow theater professionals raised nearly $30,000 to help pay for a mental health service dog. Eifrig is scheduled to get the dog early next year.