When Tricia Matthews was a child, she loved to perform and sing, and was lucky enough to go to schools where there were excellent teachers of art.
“By the time, I graduated from high school I had a very solid resume already. Many times in my life I’ve wished I had a ‘thirst’ to do something else, but I never have — born with it I guess,” she says.
While she was building her acting career, there were times when she had to do something other than acting to pay the bills.
“I had a lot of temp jobs. In New York City, I did word processing, office jobs and waitressing. In California, I worked at a digital watch factory, a rain bird factory (those sprinklers that water big lawns) and a print shop. In Florida, I worked for a landscaper, did taxes and was on the opening team for Universal Studios.But for the most part I was able to support myself with acting jobs,” Matthews says.
While she was working on a show in Arkansas, she met a musical director who worked at Barter Theatre. She auditioned for Barter for five years before she became part of the team.
“I kept in touch with Rick Rose and eventually he had an opening, and I was available. Rick Rose was a major influence on me.He gave me roles that challenged me, roles that I never would have been cast in elsewhere and often roles I didn’t think I could do but did.He trusted me to be the acting coach and a director and an artist. I’ve been at Barter since summer of 2005.I acted in 84 productions and served as director for 19 shows, plus countless readings and other projects,” she says.
She credits working in a repertory company with helping her advance her skills and try new things.
“If I were having to spend most of my time auditioning as opposed to actually performing, I would not have grown as much.I think I would be doing a lot of the same kinds of things because you tend to get pegged into things in this business. Plus, at Barter we demand that you continue to grow and experiment and try new things. We risk failure and that helps you grow. I think the best work happens in the regionals. It’s where a lot of new works begin before they head to Broadway. Yes, the money isn’t as good as New York City, but life is better.
“It is hard work, and a lot of very talented people never get to make a career of it because it is so hard to get work. Most people think actors get into the business because we are outgoing and like to be the center of attention. For the most part, I’ve not found that to be true. Most of us are a bit shy and do not crave attention. We are smart and creative and curious about humans and life and love to solve puzzles and problems.
“This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my life. It’s a little weird. I do miss going to new theaters and working with new people. I hope to do a little more of that in the future. But it is certainly nice to feel like I have a home and security. Of course, the pandemic made that a little scary for our whole industry. It’s hard to lose two years of your life. I’m pretty much a homebody. I love my house, garden, pets, my partner. So when I can be home, I am.
“The future always excites me and there are way too many favorite memories to boil it down to a few. I wouldn’t still be here if that weren’t true,” Matthews says.
To see a schedule of upcoming Barter Theatre shows, visit www.bartertheatre.com.