At one time I thought I loved time alone, and needed lots of it. I believe it was simply a little social anxiety finding a vague bit of justification. I've finished the latest Harry Potter book, read some scripts, and spooled down, getting myself to a calm place. I'm not sure how I like it, but it feels for this short period it is good for me. I've started rising earlier and sleeping earlier -- an unconscious change which will serve me well when classes start.
Thinking about the projects I've worked on in this soft and dedicated way gave me that deep breath and brought me up short. Of all the shows I've seen the last five or six years, the end of term Winter recital and the Summer production by the last ETI class were some of the most meaningful. I saw amazing scene work from people in the recital, who I now know were people that had been working very hard indeed for over six months. The Summer productions of The Tempest and Twelfth Night remain among the very best Shakespeare I've ever seen. I can't think of anything better.
At the time that sort of training and performance was a distant prize. From a land far, far away and a time... I remember watching and thinking, "Oh my God. This is what I'd like to learn to do." It was from seeing this work that I applied for, and talked my way into Meisner two years ago. Paula had talked about Meisner as a great way to get serious from the time I first met her. Watching her work, that of other Meisnerites, and finally seeing the kind of training Freehold offered in the ETI culmination made Meisner something I craved.
There was not a specific moment where I decided, "Yeah I'm ready for the brass ring," for that was how I viewed ETI three years ago, when I decided to apply for Mesiner. I was the first to apply for that by six months. My application was lost, and I resubmitted, still quite early. Knowing the work from ETI students, I never thought we were at the top of the pyramid -- if there is such a place in art -- while in Meisner. Maybe thinking of MFA's will keep me grounded in the same way this year.
The first year I knew and worked with Paula I knew I was not ready for Meisner. I applied before I was comfortable with the idea, but wanting to go in that direction. I'm in much the same position now, with my long range sights moved towards MFA programs. Continuing Education --> Freehold --> Meisner --> now ETI. That is the high level progression of my path.
Two years ago I was quite nervous. I was also unfocused at work, waiting for Meisner to start. It was my life for the next year, and I loved it, and occasionally feared it, the entire time. This time I don't have to wait until September 23rd. Our classes start earlier and run longer than any of the others at Freehold, as it is a 15 week term instead of the 10 or so weeks for other classes.
I'm rambling. Do that when I'm nervous. I started this entry with the premise of being startled when I realized the awe in which I held ETI several years ago, as I get ready to embark on that very course myself. I have the typical actor doubts in abundance. I've talked about facing them numerous times in this blog. I suspect that openness is part of what gives some people the feeling actors are ego-maniacs when most of us tend towards being egotistically anorexic. What has most allowed me to grow artistically is the close association with other artists, and Meisner was the biggest step and commitment so far. It still amazes me to have worked with those people, and now I'm moving forward. Hell yes, I'm a little proud. Excited and scared? More than a little.
I keep thinking of my first few acting classes. The first which wasn't terribly organized, and my two scene partners evaporated, then after a few improv classes my second acting class, from Rachel. I was painfully aware of how stiff and contrived I was. I guess the first truly big step was in Rachel's second class, when I was paired with an experienced and generous actor and willing and hungry to go further. I sometimes shed that awareness of how stiff and contrived I was, which was my biggest wall. I still work to shed that awareness before almost every show or rehearsal. That is how the dreaded "Being in your head" manifests itself the vast majority of the time for me.
I've a feeling all this cogitation and tangential exploration is in fact a bit of an exercise in getting out of my head on a macro scale. My habits are changing the way I want to go, without sitting down and saying, "Tomorrow I need to start getting up earlier and two days later give up my evening drink, then give up my morning time with the paper..." I'm simply losing interest in them. The last two mornings I woke up quite early, and just wasn't motivated to go back to sleep. Didn't think about my drink ritual the last few days (even though I was winemaking). I'm focused on other things and doings I suppose. Or I'm coming down with a cold.