Stage actors tend to be defined but what show they are currently working on. The most commonly asked question when running into a colleague is "what are you working on now?" It may be couched in the less general "what are you up to?" which of course can be answered with a long list of the other things that make up a person's life, but a list of other activities is, clearly, an answer in and of itself. If another theatre person asks what you are doing and you don't have a theatre related answer... you're not doing anything. Even theatre-going friends will ask what show is up next.
Which isn't to say that theatre people don't value other areas of life. Vacations and families and work and hobbies are all fascinating topics of conversation and worthy endeavors. But it's hard, at least for me, to feel like these things adequately replace the answer I long to give, which is to tell them what show I'm working on now. I feel as if I'm giving excuses for an absence from the stage when I list all the other things.
Since becoming a mother I no longer want to go from one show to the next nonstop. Truly. I know the importance of tucking The May Queen into bed on occasion. I'm better at planning vacations and just saying "well, that may mean I miss the chance to do a show." (Like the Shakespeare festival this summer. And last. And the summer before. Dagger to my heart....) However, it's true that not only does the stage bug bite again after an absence, but answering that dratted question becomes painful.
So now, I suppose, I am really in my element. Because I'm currently IN a show, rehearsing a show, have two upcoming shows slated (You know, this one as well as a classic Christmas story with the same director I worked with last December), AND have been called back for yet another.
It's a rather lengthy answer to the question, but I'll take it.