as actors, we know better than anyone that you have to know what you want. even more so, that once we get what we want, we don’t stop, we continue on to want something else. it’s just how it works. but i am starting to realise the sense that comes from “living in your joy”. so often, whenever you achieve something, there is always someone telling you, or even just yourself that strives for more and to continue on. which is great. except for the fact that it doesn’t leave you much time to enjoy what you’ve earned.
there will always be more out there to achieve. more often than not though, your victories are few and far between.
do yourself a favour, and enjoy your moment for what it is. don’t belittle your achievements so as you can live in some false modesty. live in your joy.
ps – funnily enough, this entry coincides with me now being SAG eligible.
i was brushing up on a few monologues yesterday (that’s what i do for fun instead of hopscotch) and i was thinking about my “moment before” as michael shurtleff calls it. now, one of the monologues i do is by jason willette from the 2007 play “rabbit hole” by david lindsay abbaire. and it’s an emotionally charged monologue of vulernability, reaching out, innocence, etc. now i did the monologue to myself twice, one of them was well done the other felt, “in my head”, “forced”, and “preconceived”… i looked at the differences, and it made enough sense.
i say it made enough sense, because i’m really trying to avoid figuring acting out. acting isn’t something you figure out. so stop trying. it’s something you observe and become aware of…. in my opinion.
what i noticed was this. the first time i did the monologue, it’d been a while since i’d run it. so i went through the paces. “i hit a kid”, “i killed someone’s son”, “i’m laden with guilt” and all the stuff you would THINK goes through the head of someone who had to write this kind of letter.
the second time i did the monologue, i thought to myself, as myself “what do i say?”, “how do i say it?”, “will she want to see me?”, “maybe this letter is a bad idea”… and while i had THIS stuff going on in my head, the monologue almost stumbled out, and i found myself genuinely connected.
now, i just noticed, that it would make more sense that the thoughts going on in the second run, are those of the character, and the reality. where as those in the first, are those of an actor trying to get into character. eric hunicutt (an actor, friend and improv MASTER) often said, that in scenes and in life we never COMMENTATE on what’s going on.
“here i am sipping a glass of coke, while we enjoy a day at the beach no my favourite deck chair with you and your step mother.”
no, more likely you say something like.
“i’ve been waiting for a day out like this forever. and it’s so great to be with family.”
this was supposed to be quick and far more eloquent than it eventually came out… as.
it’s easier to hate than work to understand and love.
what pisses me off is starbucks. i was sitting in one just the other day, and it got to me how ingrained into some people’s head starbucks is. these people who pack these green and brown suited houses of hell line up as if they were giving away tickets to disneyworld (which is a whole other story of rip off that can be saved for another day), all tell you the same thing.
“oh man i just love the coffee here.”
“i need that coffee hut.”
bullshit. you’re just in the routine of it. and you know what, different strokes, different folks whatever. but can i just point out, that you’re paying four bucks a pop, four or five times a week (that’s not entirely uncommon, just ask around), and that works out to be around nine hundred dollars you’ve thrown away in a year for coffee that you could’ve just made at home. i just checked online, you can buy a glock 23 semi automatic handgun (rrp $523) plus 18 boxes of 100 bullets and STILL get change. i don’t know what i’d use a glock and 1800 bullets on… perhaps all these people who drink copius amounts of coffee?
you know who i point the finger at? in my generation at least, it’s probably pinpointed at this kind of crap.
i might add she looks stellar in these pictures. perhaps coffee isn’t the fucking answer? and while i’m here, why do so many people idolise this and aspire to be like these people? ok i’m done. i’m going to fucking coffee bean.
i hope mischa doesn’t read my blog.
i’m also so SUPER disappointed in myself that the first picture i EVER include of my blog is of mischa barton drinking coffee.
as i step deeper into the craft, there are a few things i’ve noted. someone asked me a little while ago, how did i know wanted to be an actor? and what’s an indication that the talent of acting could lie within a person? i had to think for a little bit before answering.
good at speaking in front of audiences? no. i know great actors who are terrible at this.
love acting and have passion for it? nope. i know actors who hate it, but are brilliant at it.
good at theatresports, improv, and making things up on the spot and believing it…? nup. not essential.
remembers lines easily, and good attention to detail? hmmm, i don’t think so.
it’s strange. all these things that people do, that often might indicate they have a knack for acting… i’ve often found contradictions. you meet all sorts of people, in school, on the streets, in shows, etc that say they’re actors. they’re from a wide range of a spectrum. but thinking back, one thing i visited (when thinking of things i’d learned at steppenwolf with alex and co) that i felt actors that i really admired and looked up to all had… was the ability to say yes. with honesty. if that makes sense? to acknowledge new things, and approach them with an open mind. to say yes to your fear, and be willing to go for things.
sort of on that topic, but not really. i was speaking to a teacher and friend the other day (scott reineger), and we were discussing acting technique. and this guy really knows his stuff. i mean, cmon, he’s been in the business forty years, but you give him the chance, and he’ll talk about acting like he’s learning it fresh. it’s a fucking treat talking to him. anyway, in his time, he’d not come a cross a lot of viewpoints, so i felt privileged to share with him the work alex billings had shared with me last ye… wait, it was early this year (sheesh), and then at steppenwolf. and as often is the case, he recognised a lot of it. he’d not studied it under that specific name, but a lot of the themes, and viewpoints, are simply part of your every day life. i’ll share with you readers something that i’ve come up with, and it’s not something anyone’s told me. so i’m not stealing when i say this.
“viewpoints is something you become aware of, not something you consciously set out to do.”
write that down.
anyway, he shared with me things he’d learned in regards to acting on stage, and on film, in new york, and here in LA, and putting together something of a conclusion, we realised that REALLY, there’s no definitive METHOD of acting (REGARDLESS of what numerous book experts will have you believe). there’s simply things you can do, and methodologies of reaching the same goal. all these acting books, all these teachers, the adlers, the strassbergs, hagens (funnily enough these names are all related to the “group theatre”… go figure), have a way of getting to places for acting.
in the past month or so though, one thing pissed me off. i was in Samuel French a little while ago (which is where the cool kids hang out), and I was looking through acting books, and saw a familiar book. ivana chubbuck’s book “the power of the actor, the chubbuck technique”. i’ve seen this in a number of recommended readings, and she’s got a great alumni of people she’s worked with. (Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, Terrence Howard, Jake Gyllenhaal, Elizabeth Shue, Catherine Keener, Djimon Honsou, America Ferrera, Eva Mendes, Kate Bosworth, Ian Somerhalder to name a few).
now, perhaps i shouldn’t be too quick to judge (i mean cmon, who the fuck am i really?), and i really stress this is simply my opinion. but reading through it, i read a few paragraphs where she says something to the tune of “in this book, you will not be a tree, you will not be an animal, etc” seemingly thumbing her nose at “traditional” acting methods. she claims to take from stanislavski (and reading her book, most of it is the same stuff recycled anyway), and turn it to the “modern” actor. she seems to claim that she’s found the 12 steps to becoming an actor, and put it into a book. now, i guess my gripe is that anyone who says they can boil acting down into a book, or seems to take a stab at other techniques (without the “saying yes” attitude that i said was so important before) that have been followed by people like brando, de niro, pacino, etc, makes me think twice. i mean, if you are willing to accept it for what it is, then it’s fine in that it serves it’s purpose.
i guess after speaking for a while with scott, and agreeing it would be near impossible to put to paper a DEFINITIVE guide to acting, it sometimes surprises me that there are still so many sources out there that claim to have just that.
of course i should probably just put aside this knee jerk reaction and check the book out. but something about the light in which the book presents itself doesn’t sit well with me. i hope ivana doesn’t read this.
“mysterious skin” came to a close on sunday, and i can’t believe it’s already been a month. it’s strange how quickly it went by because everything happened so quickly. form casting, to learning the lines, to getting to know the cast, rehearsing, and then bang… done.
a lot of people asked me what it was like to understudy. to do all the work, and then not get up there. perhaps it’s that i’m a little green, but i found just being part of the production to be something really wonderful. on the last day of the performance, we all sat together as cast and crew in the theatre space at east west players, and chatted about the experience. i remember looking around the theatre, and just having a smile on my face. each and every person there was someone that had been part of some of the best days of my life since moving to LA (which if you know me, means my life period).
i guess though for me, understudying meant something important to me. acting is a tough art form. and you want to do your best and present nothing short of that when you go up. so for someone like david (who played neil), or scott (who played brian), if they feel unwell, or have other commitments it’s important for them to be able to say “ok, i can’t go up ross, tobit, etc have this covered” and know they can take a day to rest. the understudy’s job is to be sharp so as to be able to provide this. some might say this goes unthanked and unnoticed, but for me, i got all the thanks i needed in being part of “mysterious skin”. i got to be a professional actor.
since then, i’ve actually auditioned for “wrinkles” which is the third play in the series at EWP (actually I also auditioned for “crimes of the heart”, the second play… but no call back… at least now they know my name, ha!). and i also auditioned for a play at the Eclectic Theatre in burbank. it’s something of a fight club theatre piece (original material) without the attitude and done as a comedy. in an ideal world, i’d pick up that role and do it with geoff james. but let’s take it a day at a time.
anyway, that’s a little update on my end. i’m auditioning lots. and i’m busy. the second year of my time in LA has well and truly kicked off.
alexandra billings wasn’t kidding when she said the fear during freefall could be enormous. nor was she kidding when she said that once you were done with one, life wouldn’t wait before giving you another.
since school finished, there have been new projects, and new chapters in my acting life to worry about. as “mysterious skin” comes to a close after next week, i find myself a little down. i’ve heard it from other actors before, but this is the first time it’s come from me. not only has it been a wonderful challenge, and a wonderful experience to be a part of, it’s been my first foray into the professional world of acting. like a boxer who’s been training for years, finally setting his foot into the ring and sparring a real opponent.
and i guess for me, as i go back to auditioning for student films, with graduate directors (and i mean no disrespect, but there are a lot of flakey directors out there in love with their own work, vision, and believe they’re steven spielberg… just as there are actors who believe they’re pacino or de niro…), i feel as though there’s a possibility that this last project was as good as it gets.
parrots. i know. but hard to ignore. but as i’ve promised, i’ll live my life the way i approach my acting. moment by moment. i’m not even done with this freefall, but the next one, that involves SAG, equity, finding work, and cleaning the funk that’s in my bathroom sink seem to beckon ever louder.
i’ve moved into my new place (which by the way is a sexy little studio just outside of downtown LA).