I think this will take several days to write. Heck, it has taken several just to start. Things are busy at the moment. Today is Tuesday.
I E-mailed 5 people asking for references for the Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI). Three are directors who have glimpsed me over the last four to five years, and two are the directors I have worked with most recently. One person got back to me very quickly with a strong recommendation I don't consider the program. Not exactly what I was looking for, but appreciated none the less. To keep the articles easy, I flipped a coin and made this person a "He."
He said I'm not ready for the program, and haven't any of the basics every beginning actor should have. On the one hand I've seen him make some bizarre statements about art, process, craft, and in judgments of others I though were out to lunch. Part of the reason I didn't ask for a report card. On the other hand, he took the time to list my perceived shortcomings, and an even longer list as to why he is knowledgeable. I didn't feel I gave him my best work because I was caught up in an effort to apply lots of new tools, and it has bothered me since. I know why I didn't do as well as I thought I should, and learned from it, but I don't excuse myself for it.
While I am skeptical of the report card, I believe there is a need to consider where those opinions came from and how much merit there is with regards to my goals. ETI is expensive and provides advanced training, in some of the very places where both myself and this person think I need work. So, we are thinking along the same lines in some aspects. His conclusion: The cost and time commitment is quite significant and not something I should do at this stage if I want to get the most out of it. I've talked of my struggle with this very issue, though I am now inclined to be less timid.
Now it is a waiting game. The opinions of the others I would take much more seriously. They are people who I consider artists rather than artisans or technicians, and have seen me do better work. That is part of my motivation, to make my work better consistently
. As important in my mind, most have seen my progress as an artist.
The interminably long "I don't want to make you feel bad but..." put me off because it felt so like the self-aggrandizement at the expense of others which is pandemic to my mother and her side of the family. The same message would be more effective for me with a gentle, "Scott, I don't feel comfortable writing a reference for you at this time." The dissertation on my shortcomings was a little harder to accept at face value. I understand it took some effort and thought. The length gave it a feeling of well considered meanness intent on demeaning another person. Something I need to remember when I am asked for something similar. I told myself that was not the intent, with a little success, so I could be very analytical in pulling the salient points without getting all angry and bent out of shape. Now, I find myself more worried about what he may say to other people who haven't got professional directors and actors they can trust and consult for second opinions. I believe I was very gracious in my reply, but I may have missed the mark as he did. If so, I hope he gives me the benefit of the doubt too.
Going back in time, last weekend was great. We ran the entire play for the weekend rehearsals and again the last two days, and it is great seeing how it all comes together, along with the build and flex of each run. These are seasoned actors, with as many processes as individuals. The blocking, characters, connections, and lines just keep getting stronger. A pleasure to watch and be a part of. The camaraderie is a magical thing for me, maybe as much as the show itself.
After Saturday's rehearsal I popped over to Port Orchard. My Dad was in Seattle, and we ended up on the same ferry heading back to his house. I was on the dock watching a small school of fish, herring maybe, with slightly larger young salmon or cutthroat trout, about 12" long, cruising below them. I was reminiscing about growing up on the water, when my Dad's voice broke the reverie. Pretty apt.
After the ferry ride, we dropped stuff of at his house and had dinner at a nice Japanese restaurant, housed in the old Port Orchard Dairy Queen. Then off to the community theatre where we saw Hell To Pay
. This is the show which I auditioned for the lead a while back. I enjoy seeing a production of a script I've read, and this was a hoot. Their first weekend, and the lead was a good strong actor, especially after the first few scenes, and the show was very enjoyable. The other two actors who seemed a little greener also did very good jobs. I like community theatre more than most of my peers, and I think they would have enjoyed this too.
The director was at the show and took the time afterwards to grab me and say he really wanted to cast me, but the board said, "Oh Scott. He is way too nice for that role." He said he told them I was an actor, but couldn't sway them. I found it hysterical and flattering at the same time. I was touched, and wasn't expecting or looking for such a nice compliment.
Sunday morning we were both out of the house by 9:15 AM. Pop on his way to the Unity Church, and I to the ferry for my Noon rehearsal. After rehearsal I went to the Driftwood Players theatre in Edmonds, for Sarah's baby shower. I took several classes from Sarah, including the writing workshop I enjoyed so much. I brought along some of my signature cookies, of which I make a double batch so as not to leave half packs of chips in the cupboard. I was popular wherever I went this weekend, including rehearsal, leaving cookies in my wake.
Then on my way for dinner with Rachel. We hadn't sat down and chatted for months, and I was itching to talk out my thoughts and such about ETI and grad school. Friends are such a blessing. Happily Rachel had some ideas she wanted to float too, so it wasn't a one way evening. I don't want to recap the conversations here, but Rachel brought up one thing I hadn't thought of. Having an MFA would make grant applications stronger. That is really quite an important aspect I'd never thought of. There is the arts outreach retreat I dream about...
While I was riding back to work after a fun morale event of whirly ball
I had a bit of a process eye opener. I hesitate to say epiphany because I know I've heard the same thing from directors and instructors, but it really landed this time. Like when Dave told me the fridge rule he taught for a motorcycle safety class in Canada. Always ride with the idea that out of sight, just over the hill or around the corner there is a huge SubZero freezer lying across the road. The specific focus improved my overall riding letting me corner nearly twice as fast with better stability and safety, because it allowed me to finally look through the turn like you are supposed to do, instead of looking at where you are on the pavement.
As I said, I was riding back, with a co-worker following on his bike. I was letting the cars on the twisty roads pull further ahead so I could accelerate for the fun turns in the road. I told Vijay I was "Saving up for the curves." I got to thinking about that. I wonder if I do the same thing for parts I'm working on, focus on the challenging or fun bits. Well, if I have to ask, I'm sure I do to some extent. Yeah, I know, I know. There is no such thing as a throw-away line or stage direction. Sometimes it takes me a while to assimilate what I know. Be nice. (I'm getting my strength back.) Now I need to apply the fridge rule, without anticipating the lines. Really, it is still like the fridge rule, you don't know where the fridge is going to be, you are simply engaged fully and ready to do what needs to be done when the big freaking fridge shows up. Now, work to apply it to my homework, prep, and awareness.
I'm tired. Tonight is a free night, and I've been fairly quiet about it. I'm looking forward to getting a little extra rest. I bagged on a get together after rehearsal last night, because I was so beat. Hindsight showed that to be the wrong choice, I was to tired to get to sleep for several hours. Next week is tech and opening, so my next free day is a week from Monday. Not counting the day job. I'm looking forward to that boring day, and another shot at a little extra rest.