'Aster', that's what the crosswords are looking for. I'm thinking more along the line of buddy, mates, or for seven letters I'd pick friends.
We had a get together at the Elysian last night for Paula's birthday, which Steve set up. I don't know how it is Paula was surprised. Paula is not only a fine director, she is a very accomplished actor. Okay despite what you are thinking, that proves she was surprised. We generally just go from place to place in a consensual fog. With our day jobs and theatre related obligations and commitments, I think most of us delight in simply doing without a plan, as long as we're laughing and ranting together. Some (like me) may revel in the randomness more than others. Still, Steve and Gregory got everything set up, and with a guided randomness actually got Paula into the Elysian a little early, only minutes after the last of the group arrived. I was graciously credited with grouping everyone together ahead of time. It consisted of, "You don't need the signs, we'll just bring people to your table."
I replied, "Great, they may be asking for Paula for her birthday, or Gregory who reserved the table."
"Oh, we thought it was Gregory's birthday." Now I think about it, maybe I prevented a bit of confusion. We have a number of friends in common, including Gregory. There were a number of other people I'd met through Steve and Paula, including his brother and sister-in-law. Rebecca and Paul were there, who I know through Spolin, and I chatted with a few new acquaintances. We all had a great time.
The time when the weather turns gray, damp, cool is a time I like. I didn't used to. It used to signal the time I withdrew in every way I could until warm weather returned. Now it brings in new projects and challenges to enjoy. Last year Meisner and a couple workshop shows, the year before some workshopping, and preparing for Meisner, etc. This year I'm about to start the mask class, working on Rumors
, a promotional scene from The Cherry Orchard
(just accepted that this morning for Exchange Theatre), and a couple more shows. As soon as I am done with this journal entry, it's to the books and dialect CD to work on Rumors
and the talk I'll be giving Thursday on the development of a play. I enjoy all the projects for themselves, and anticipate the new acquaintances and friendships which will result.
Last night reminded me of when I first met Paula. Bartlett Sher was teaching a directors/actors lab through Freehold. I was taking it with a couple friends from Rachel's classes as actors, and Rachel was taking it as a director. As usual I arrived early for the first session, as I have a commute subject to epic traffic jams. I said hi to this quiet woman I'd never met, asking if she was in the class. She was almost surly, and I meandered off finding someone I knew to chat with. Quiet and surly are not words anyone would ever associate with Paula. She happened to be in a bad place that day.
Four weeks later we were carrying props and such out of the Intiman rehearsal building, which Bart used for an added class session. Paula, whom I'd had a chance to work with in a scene directed by Rachel, told me Rachel said I was sharp and dependable and asked if I'd be interested in doing some tech directing for her. By that time I knew my initial impression of Paula was atypical, and I also knew she was a professional actor. Well, I said I had no idea what to do, but I'd give it a whorl. A month or two later she called while I was commuting to Port Orchard for You Can't Take It With You
. I was feeling pretty busy with the show and two 90 minute trips each evening, and nearly skipped returning her call. I finally did, we met for dinner and a beer few days later where I met Steve for the first time, and after the last performance for the show in Port Orchard, I rushed straight over to audit the Fringe Festival open auditions with her. We have worked on four shows together. I am tremendously grateful for the introduction to the Fringe world and things like Meisner, and her appreciation of my tech directing, stage managing, set design/construction, etc., is reciprocal. Those are the strongest friendships, where there is so much give and accept both ways.
The two friends from Rachel's class I have not seen in over a year, one of them not since that final day of class over two years ago. I don't even know if I'd recognize them. Rachel whom I have come to know since, and develop a very deep admiration for (are you blushing?) is now a very good friend, as of course are Paula and Steve.
I took Bart's class to get some experience with different directors, and it turned out to be one of the many critical steps in my journey. My connections with the fringe theatre community start at that point. I loved my stint with the community theatre, and hope to return, but working with professionals changed my perspective creating a thirst to attain a deeper level, a much higher standard, and curiously a conviction it was not out of my reach.
Last night I was talking to several very accomplished actors whom I have known for a couple years now. They know both my relative level of inexperience, and my dedication and love of theatre. They were treating me as peers as they have for quite a while, and it hit me. It did not make me feel uncomfortable, like I was somehow a fake. I'm wondering if that is the restless feeling which has been nagging me. In the last few months I have been coming to a realization, more of an admission I am not a pretender, and giving up the notion I might or mightn't be a good actor, and simply accepting I am an actor, an artist. "It's not a goddamn competition Scott!" I've been talking and writing about it a lot, boring myself and others as I grapple.
One of the reasons I canceled my medical school interviews in 1983 and ran away to the Navy, was I believed once you were trained as a doctor you had a social responsibility and obligation to practice medicine as long as you were able. I had lost much of my respect and awe of medicine, which I saw becoming a corporate pursuit rather than something human and honorable, and not a pursuit to which I could dedicate my soul and body.
Art touches me in a similar, yet deeper and fulfilling way. I wonder if the hesitation in unconditionally stating, "Hi my name is Scott and I'm an artist." was an avoidance technique. A way to lighten the load of social responsibility and obligation. Now I'm in a quandary, "Shit, what exactly is it I feel obligated to do?" Oh great, more questions. Will it ever end? Hope not.
Well the journey has provided me with friends, without which I would have gone nowhere. More friends than I thought it possible to have, and of all stripes. Intermittent, short term, long term, constant, distant, close, solid, flaky, needy, supportive, taking, giving... All enriching. So here it is, Fall again, and the puzzles are numerous and building, and I think my seven letter word for a Fall bloom is the key to the puzzle.