Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
Through this weekend, Brian Salmon plays Sidney Cochran in California Suite at Scripps Ranch. For over a decade he was one of San Diego's "name" actors. Audiences went to see him perform.
Six years ago, Brian left San Diego, changed his name, and swore off acting.
The name change first: Facebookers began receiving messages from "Ba Salmon." Who?
"I just wanted my first two initials - B.A.," says Salmon. "But Facebook saw otherwise, and I became "Ba" [author's note: Facebook changed mine too: I am now "Jeffrey," at least part of the time].
The departure: "I had a chance to work in San Francisco - which I did for 63 days, including weekends. Too dysfunctional. So I traveled for four months (Australia, Hawaii, New York, Paris, Rome) and went to work in Sacramento."
He moved back to San Diego last year when his mother went on assisted living.
"Yes, I swore it off. I'd been in several less-than-satisfying productions. I was unhappy with what I was or wasn't bringing to the stage. It was also time for a change in my life. So I walked away. It helped that I changed jobs and moved to Sacramento. New city, new people, adventures.
"I hadn't quite quit yet, and eventually found myself looking at print and online theater sections. I ended up in a workshop for a local company. First exercise: everyone stand up and deliver a classical monologue, only do it while suffering the most excruciating pain of your life.
"I tried hard, but the exercise became the most excruciating pain of my life. Monologued myself out the door. That was the last acting I did for six years."
But could you do it cold turkey? Didn't you need 12 steps or a thespian deprogrammer?
"Walking away isn't hard. Just like a relationship, if you're not getting something: love, respect, companionship, chocolate chip cookies, SOMETHING, then why are you there? Nobody needs to act. If you do, what you really need is a life, in my very humble opinion.
"The most interesting actors bring that outside life, that energy with them on stage. The audience should feel that there's something else happening. And I don't think it's just technique. That energy should be informing every performance. If it just becomes about slogging your way through the show, hanging your tired old rear end out, then spare everyone your misery."
Next time: the long road back.