Tomorrow

Here I am stressing, keeping it to myself, trying to pull it all the way in when it occurs to me that I have a blog that could be used for getting some of this emotion out.  Why am I feeling stressed?  Well, tomorrow is the first time in about three months that I will perform in front of my acting facilitator, and I’m not entirely happy with how my monologue is going.  It is also the first time in a month that I will be performing in front of a group of people who used to be my best friends in the world.  I’m not going to lie, I’m hoping they decide to skip out.  I don’t want to deal with their negative energy, or their egotistical rants about how little work they assume I put in compared with them because I know very well how much they want to see me as ordinary now.

The only reason I’m not happy with this monologue at the moment is because I know I can put more into it.  I hate the beginning work on a scene, the work that happens when you’re just finishing the very basic character work and haven’t fully bitten into the character quite yet.  I hate the blandness, the skeleton that the scene has to be.  If I’m going to perform, I’d prefer to do it after the bones have been filled in with a little muscle here and there.  Then again, I know there are good reasons that directors want to see the bones.  It is far better to build upon a solid foundation.

I just wish the energy from last semester had flowed into this one, and the friendships – garnered, strengthened, intensified – had lasted.  Of course, the Earth revolves, time passes, life goes on, and things, constantly in flux, change.  Sadly, in this instance, that means losing a troupe of friends that I had thought to be, more or less, permanent.  Our energies seemed so well aligned.  It may not be permanent, but how we can come back from the recently exchanged blows, I cannot fathom.  The Universe sends people to us who we need in our lives, and she takes those no longer necessary away.  May my troupe be replaced by those who can teach me and support me and fill my life with a lovely new energy, and to whom I can offer the same gifts.  I may have already found one, if he will have me, and never lost another, who is practically family.  It is a hope, and there are many more.

Of course, the only reason this post is happening, you may like to know, is because Game of Thrones Series 3 is not out.  Now, I watch the show online because I do not have cable or a television, and the place I watch it has Series 3 Episode 1 listed as available to watch.  Since, however, that episode doesn’t even come out until the end of the month all the site could really show me was a 2 minute teaser trailer.  Well, that was not what I had originally planned.  No.  I had planned on being distracted for another hour, and then going to bed.  Perhaps the audiobook will be a better distraction, and help me get to sleep before my heart manages to beat itself free of my chest.

May the Sun guide you ever on your journeys, the Moon cover you as you sleep, and the Stars offer comfort when all seems dark.  Thank you for reading and have a lovely evening.  ^-^

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On Acting: Thoughts on the Past Two Years

Now, I have to admit that I always looked down on acting before I took my first class with my current acting coach/facilitator, because I thought that it was just a bunch of pretty people who wanted attention memorizing lines and getting on stage to recite them.  Unfortunately, that’s still what a LOT of people think acting really is, and, yes, this does include far too many people who like to and manage to get parts in actual productions.

A dilettante is a person who claims an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.  I have found recently that the majority of those in plays and on films are dilettantes who don’t even understand what the phrase ‘hard work’ means, let alone that acting is not an attention seeking endeavor.  It is not about the actor, it is about the characters and the story and the action on stage/ in the film.  The actor is remarkably unimportant.

Not only that, but it is very HARD WORK to be an actor.  You must study, you must practice, you must focus, you must meditate, you must train every single muscle in your body, you must be consciously aware of everything that you do in life, you must perfect your recall, you must research, you must understand psychology / sociology / philosophy / interpersonal communication / etc., and, perhaps most importantly, you must be present in EVERY moment of your life at all times, moment to moment.

I have literally only been studying acting for almost two years, and I’m already catching up to people who have been studying for a decade or more.  I have been working hard, and I believe that has made all of the difference.  Now, I honestly don’t think much of my own abilities because I know that I have a long, long way to go and a LOT more work to do.  Like figure skating, an actor can ALWAYS make improvements, learning to perfect their craft.  Plus, there are still things in life that I have yet to experience, and they will better enable me to portray a particular character better, as a result.

The past semester, however, I received primarily compliments from my facilitator and from people who have been studying acting for quite a while.  I keep hoping they will take the crap out of everything that I’m doing on that stage, but the compliments from people who don’t like stroking anyone have made me realize one very important thing: I have grown a significant amount in the past two years.

The only real downside to all of this is that I have not had much time for anything else.  I have spent the semester in character for two entirely different plays (and two entirely different genders), while at the same time creating a ‘third’ new character for a new scene every two weeks.

Everyone in this profession says that this occupation is a lonely one (and I have heard the same about the writing profession), and now I understand why.  Not only do you spend most of your time studying, bettering yourself, and, overall, working to improve your craft, but you also learn to really see people.  The problem with learning to really see people is that, well… you get to know too much, in a sense.

All this being said, there is still a large aspect of acting that MUST be undertaken on one’s own, and so there have been weeks where I have just shut myself in my room so that I could get down to business doing character work and other forms of studying to get myself into whatever character I happen to be working on at the moment.  I’ve been so immersed in this new art, in fact, that I have forgotten how I move, having changed my walk and my mannerisms for so many different characters in the past four months.

My vocal abilities have grown and so have my physical abilities.  I played an elderly man in Arsenic and Old Lace during a three week run, and after every show I would strip off the costume and the make-up and ‘put myself back on’ only to greet people who had no idea I had even been on the stage.  My closest friends and several people who see me in class every week had to ask me which character I had been playing.  Now, if that’s not a compliment to any serious actor-in-training, I honestly don’t know what is.  I have been unrecognizable this semester in so many different portrayals, and have been able to use some horrible situations in my past in a constructive way for the first time in my life.

Also, notably, for the first time in my life, no one is holding me back in any way, shape, or form.  I have somehow actually managed to accidentally create a support structure for myself, drawing to me those who I most need in my life at any given point in time.  I’m not sure how I do this, but it is most certain that I do.  Apparently, many people born under my sun and moon signs and on the day of the month of the year I was born on have similar attributes, and I have been learning quite a bit about those as well.  Learning to see both the bad and the good about myself, and accepting these things as who I am for maybe the first time in my life without allowing anyone to coddle me or tell me I can’t do this… it’s a major step for me.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly to me, is the sheer knowledge that before starting this training I did not really know how to play.  I have said this often to people in my life, and I’ll probably say it yet again: I raised both of my brothers beginning at age eight.  My parents were divorced, Mother was never around and wouldn’t let Dad anywhere near us (to hurt him, not because he was in any way harmful to us), and both of them were behaving like children rather than raising the three kids they actually had.  So I did it.

My mother, being the crazy religious nut she has always been, would not let us believe in anything that required the remotest amount of imagination: Santa, fantasy, fairy tales, horror, dinosaurs, etc.  Anything that wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the New King James version of the Bible could not possibly exist.  As a result of this and several other notable events that I don’t like talking about, my childhood was rather stunted, and I grew up far, far too fast.  I’m fine with this now, but I had to learn to surpass it.

It’s an incredible feeling, despite the horrible nerves and sickening anxiety that leads up to a performance, to be able to get onto that stage and actually be another character; someone else.  To go out and play, giving life to someone that a writer imagined years, decades, or centuries before I was even born, is beyond breathtaking, particularly when you consider that no one has imagined this character the way that I have.  Now, that is not to say that the character has not been portrayed similarly or even the same way that I’m portraying him or her, but, considering the fact that no one sees the world exactly the same way I do (in that we all have our own perspective, experiences, and things that lead us to where we are now), no one has ever seen this character’s point of view exactly the way I have.  That’s… amazing, when you really stop to think about it; heady, even.

Anyway, this has been quite a long and rambly affair, but it is under a ‘read more’ tag for a reason.  If you’ve made it this far, thank you.  Honestly, I know that my words are far less important to most people, and the largest majority of individuals that anyone meets at any given time don’t honestly care all that much about what those around them have to say on any given subject.  So, anyone who cares what I have to say (particularly when I seem to have QUITE A LOT to say sometimes) has a unique place in my life, and I thank you for putting yourselves into it.  Truly, a few of you here on Tumblr have been truer friends to me than anyone I have known in real life.  I guess that’s one wonderful thing about the internet: we put ourselves out there completely without masks or pretenses.  The only other place I have felt so trusted and able to trust is the stage, and I had to find that the hard way.

I hope you all have the loveliest lives possible, full of experiences and stories to tell.  ^-^

 

Replacements

I had initially headed into this weekend wondering if I would regret my decision to sit out the NoWD in favor of Arsenic and Old Lace’s closing weekend cast party.  Of course, there were several different reasons for said decision, but most importantly was the fact that three of my castmates and one of the crew (who are also 4 of my closest circle of friends) very much wanted me to attend.  I could not have anticipated how much I would gain from having made this choice.  

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I won’t go into great detail here, I will simply say that I had more fun than I had at last year’s NoWD, and that I had quite a few more revelations.  I now know where I’m going with my novel, and, whether or not I have time to hit my 50K before the end of the month, that is immensely valuable.  I saw last night what I needed to get things to tie themselves together, and which characters I would need to do this.  The great thing about the writer’s block I had previously is that I don’t have all that much to rewrite, and I DO have a great start with what I DID manage to write. 

I also deepened a relationship with one member of my circle, and solidified a new friendship that had been dancing over that acquaintance/friend line.  This is my life, and these are my people.

Lastly, a major reason for writing this experience out (if vaguely) here, is to remember what one of my wonderful castmates told me last night.  A bit of background first: this castmate has already done what I plan on doing in attaining his English major, and he is now training in preparation to get his MFA in Acting, though he hasn’t decided from where he will attain this.  The only differences are that I plan to double major, and I plan to avoid teaching as much as is possible.  Though, as we all know, the universe does like to laugh in the face of plans, particularly when said plan does not serve you as well as the alternative. 

Anyhow, this friend told me something that got me thinking.  He said, ‘Actors are not human.  We’re meant to pretend humanity and normalcy, but how we are, are treated, and what we go through… we’re not human.”  It got me thinking, and on this I will not speculate here because I haven’t yet fully gathered my thoughts on the matter.  I just felt it was something that needed to be remembered, thus my reason for writing it down.

To those who made it this far, thank you for reading my journalistic (and unfortunately individualistic) ramblings.  I hope you have a lovely Monday, and a relaxing holiday if I don’t ‘see’ you.  ^-^