Friday, November 30, 2012

Setting New Goals

It's so important to be harsh on oneself as an actor.  Many disagree, but I calm their protests by stating that the harshness should not be the powerful, overall self-perception.  Indeed, a true pride in one's own instrument, process, and philosophies is what is needed most!  But to maintain something to be proud, self-criticism is necessary.

Without gauging with my instrument, and listening to criticism, I wouldn't be able to grow as an actor.  I finished playing Ned Blunt The Rover on November 11, a role that I can confidently say I accomplished the following goals- To make bold, uninhibited choices, and to make my physicality and text integrated into a fluid performance.  However, I sometimes struggled in the rehearsal process with a habit of streamlining through some spoken thoughts without variety or spontaneity.  I addressed these problems.  Now, as I work on Three Sisters, which has been a slightly different process, I find a struggle in streamlining once again.  This second process is almost complete, but I must explore new ways of keeping myself away from such a habit.  Thankfully, I am aware of it.

I just had to get this down tonight.  It's truly revelatory to grasp the idea of needing improvement, and being patient with the learning curves that I have run into whilst in undergraduate drama school.  Without the difficulties of drama school, I wouldn't have been given the opportunities to attempt the seemingly impossible roles handed over to me.  It's okay for me to admit that 2 years ago I didn't do so hot as the 42-year-old bachelor... but, hell, did I learn a lot!

I suppose a near future post might be an extension of that last paragraph!  To share what I think is most important about a drama school!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mastering the Performance

I just got home from a rehearsal of Three Sisters, in which I am playing Tuzenbach (and for which I have grown my first beard).  It was the first time we were able to run through the show.  I am so amazed by how quickly my company can embody and memorize lines... a true testament to our training (this process is only 3.5 weeks, the last one being next week).

The run through had ups and downs.  Still searching for Tuzenbach's center and military-influenced physicality.  I suppose I just need to get more specific with his point-of-view.  But besides that point, it rushed by, as we were all really beginning to find the engaging qualities with one another (for no performance is truly exceptional unless it is engaged with the other, including the audience).

My most recent role was as Ned Blunt in The Rover.  15 of our 20 member senior class was in it (the other 5 were doing outside projects).  We accomplished something great in that project- a oneness.  And I discovered the greatest lesson I have uncovered so far- As an actor, it is important for me to have mastered the physical life of the role- to know that journey inside and out, and to thoroughly build moments of opportunity to "discover" in the moment during performance.  However, whilst that may be mastered, what is never mastered is the performance itself.  Indeed, the performance that matters is the performance of today, and until you have finished it during curtain call, you cannot claim to have mastered the role.  I would wake up every day during our 2-week run a little nervous about doing the show, for I would search and ask myself if I could truly give 100% of myself on that day to fill in the metaphysical, spiritual, driven, emotional life of the character, all the ingredients necessary to make it seem a breathing young man from Essex is exploring and learning within the seediness of Carnival Spain on his continental travels.  I loved this feeling, for it humbled and grounded me every night from the high of last night's show.  I was, truly, able to always keep the lessons of the show before without being married to totally attempting to recreate them!  What a thing to uncover within my own instrument, and it's something I couldn't have possibly known until I felt it for myself.

This is what excites me about one day having a year-long contract with a show.  The opportunity to play a role 416 times is thrilling to me.  Every day is an opportunity to become a better actor, a better human, and a better observer.  To constantly engage with people on a specifically concentrated level is magic.  To expose and explore the desires and afflictions we all of us suffer through now and then is a privilege and honor to do.  And I thank my undergraduate education for that!  The fact that I can walk into a large theatre and be heard without a mic or any strain to my voice or subtlety floors me.  I am so moved to have that power, and grateful to it.  I get to give what I have always loved (and still love) to receive when I go to theatre.