Saturday, January 16, 2010

i want my balloon back

The voice is getting louder. I want my old lover back. Acting, I'm talking to you.

A while ago, I wrote this post (which explains, eventually, the title of this one) about how I felt I was ready to let acting go and embrace writing in its place. Dumb me, I always think I can kill and then bury these deep desires. You can starve the little unnecessary ones, no problem. They wither and float away and you never remember they were ever there. But I always do this; I take my pride and pain and fear and cut them up and mix them around and refashion them into some practical-looking garment that I can parade around in and look wise. What? Oh, no. That? No. No, I don't need that. No, I outgrew that. Yes, check me out, I'm traveling light.

Allow me to quote myself:

You know what it is? What acting gave me I think I might not need so much any more. As I get older, I find I don’t so much need an outlet for the parts of myself I repress in my daily life, because I think…I THINK…that I’m not repressing myself so much. I don’t sacrifice truthfulness on the altar of my persona in the way I may have done back in the day.

Ha!! You think? Oh, I'm on to me. Hilarious. I cracked that one, did I? I'm all me, all the time, letting it fly? The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Congratulations. You're a total anomaly. And you figured it out so young. Nice try, hoser.

So I thought I had snuffed it out, my desire to act. And then last fall, an ember was found lying in wait. And then this morning I had an epiphany, courtesy of my meditation practice. I follow this path called The Way of Seeing (so linky today, Link Wray), which, among other things, entails 25 minutes of counting meditation in the morning immediately followed by ten minutes of laying back quietly and just being present with yourself without getting caught up in your thoughts. I've been having a tricky time with the laying back. Thoughtsthoughtsthoughts. And then this morning, it occurred to me that I could try a little trick and approach these ten minutes as though I were bade to go onstage and sit on a chair, quietly, and just be present/open. Oh, that! That's what this is! Now I get it, I can do that. I can go onstage and do nothing. I love going onstage and doing nothing, in fact. This is that, minus the audience. Excellent. And I could feel then how clearly it's a part of me, how deep it is, what an orientation it is, being an actor.

Let's be clear. This isn't, of course, meant to be the reverse post to the first one. I thought I was a writer but I'm really an actor! Der, duh. No. But I miss the visceral sizzle, the carnality of it. You can't just be a head floating over a heart wrapped in a soul as an actor. Your whole instrument has got to be involved, on fire. I think I feel a little dead without it. My body wants to be recruited. And you also can't be an actor without being aware of your own desires, your real ones, your deepest ones. You need them. You need their fuel. Same with your fears, you have to identify them and be willing to hole up with them. No fudging. How ass-kickingly marvelous. Who would want to do less? Jesus, then you're really living. Then you're not just biding time.

The good thing is that I'm clear now that this isn't something I'd be trying to wrangle into a career. So all my "audition this" and "unfair that" excuses can suck it. That's not what I'm here for. I'm here to live, damn it, that's all. Life force, I want to feel it. Nerves tingling. Dangling off a ledge.

Yes, that's what else I love about it. It's like a dare. I dare you to go out there in front of all those people and ________________. Oh, yeah? Watch me.

I've been away from it long enough, though, that I'm coming back humble. Oh, yes, I am. I have been re-blessed with beginner's mind. Holy shit, how do you do it? Screw it. Let's find out. Let's find out all over again.

I hear that Marya Kaminski is chewing the living heart out of Electra with Seattle Shakespeare Company. I'm going to go and watch her and be inspired.

Monday, January 11, 2010

attention, please

Quickly, I'm swinging on ropes across a great ravine, and your attention is the next rope.

Ah, thank you. Life-giving sunlight, your attention, strikes right in the solar plexus, spreads pleasure, propels me another slow, sure, enjoyable twenty feet.

Look, look at me! Hurry up. Thank you.

[I perform a small dance in the air, gyrations. Payment for your trouble.]

Your attention has disappeared. That's fine. I have its ghost. Your foot has come off the gas pedal but the fuel hasn't entirely stopped flowing. I'm still moving forward.


[(There's a trick involved, here, bystanders. You have to pick the right moment to launch your bid for attention. Do it too soon and you're wasting perfectly good fuel. This is assuming some ecological model in which fuel is exhaustible and can be wasted, but you should assume that. If you don't, and you're wrong, you may not make it all the way across to your death. You may run out of fuel and die before your death.

The cartoon character has just raced off a cliff into mid-air, come to a stop and realized its dilemma. We are in the micro-vicinity of the moment to strike. You have between now and your blinking take to the watching audience (the other watching audience, the one that doesn't matter) to launch your bid. If you wait until "reality"/"gravity" kicks in and your limbs just barely begin to flail, your performance will have a whiff of desperation about it. This isn't immediately fatal, it's just foolish. You have a long way to travel across to your death. If you are to hold the desired audience's attention, your performances must inspire trust. Your performances should be assured, seemingly careless, professional without showing it. Your technique must be firmly in place. Then you can allow real life to come into your performances! And you should, you must. You have a long way to travel across to your death. These performances should be worthwhile, should nourish your audience with something real. Your audience is also in mid-air, is quietly struggling, has a long way to travel across to their death. If you are always yelping for attention and then holding up an empty box, your audience will begin to ignore your pleas, however tuneful your yelp, however shapely your box. The trick is to inspire loyalty, lifelong loyalty, create a valuable symbiosis. You and your audience should have a real exchange at each of these desperate crossroads.)]

[(However, you both have a long way to travel across to your deaths so you should occasionally also just have fun. For every four times your bid for life-giving attention involves the removal of your skin and bones and the revealing of your pulsating internal organs, there should be at least one bid that's just flashing some skin or telling a joke or popping and locking for a second. Feel free to adjust that ratio, if you're confident. Play it by ear, if you have a good ear. Don't fuck with it, otherwise - lives are on the line. When in doubt, 4:1.)]