I'm working with the schedule for ETI. It is still leaving me totally committed all day long. Even these posts are less meandering in my writing process. Write it, proof it, post it. Not a lot of time for rewrites, and tightening. Then again I don't have the time to ramble, so maybe I don't need to condense my thoughts as much?
I'm feeling like an actor. I'm finding joy in the process in ETI. I look forward to classes, not like Meisner two years ago, where I often wanted to make and excuse stay home, but went anyway knowing I would end up appreciating the class, and almost always enjoying it.
This is totally different training, yet the same. We're starting to get more and more into the classical training, but the deep inside-out (method) training is always there and informs much of what we do. When I think about it I've had more luck with outside-in work than I would have expected over the years. Accents make a big difference for me. Once I have an accent down a bit, I find it to be one of the biggest releases for letting the character speak and act. Movement often has the same effect. Costume not so much. So many people find costume to be a huge thing, and for me it is an aide, but not profound. Generally it is subtle, and limited. Suspenders, shoes, or a badge or pin on a uniform. Not the whole costume, just a particular part that makes me feel a little more like the character.
The method and classical approaches seem to work synergistically for me.
What brought me here? I recently got together with one of my beginning acting instructors, Rachel. I thought about it later and of the new vocabulary and world I didn't have when I signed up for my first classes. Larger, richer, more meaningful, and more personal than in all my previous pursuits. Concepts I don't have to think about to express, the vocabulary flows. The world of art, theatre in particular, keeps me alive and more cognizant of and connected to the worlds outside.
I have a level of confidence and comfort I did not expect. Throughout all my training, I have felt I needed so much more training and experience to be acceptable in my eyes. The amount I want to learn becomes larger with every step and world of things I don't know yet keeps getting bigger and bigger. Yet I feel more ready to be on the boards. Some of it is accepting I will never stop learning, and being excited by the prospect. More of it is finally believing I have something worthwhile to offer an audience. I crave more of the training we've started, and I'm already looking forward to finishing ETI and getting back on the boards. I feel like we are forging tools which will serve us in real productions.
I remember the first show I did after Meisner, Rumors, and struggling to bring what I'd studied and experienced in Meisner to that show. I was not satisfied. I was quite frustrated, feeling I had botched up even my previous tools. I wasn't really all that sucky, but against my internal yardstick I certainly was. I believe it will take me a year or years to fully assimilate the ETI work. Yet I already feel I've assimilated enough to start to be the kind of actor I want to be.
I suspect a lot of the previous training enabled me to be the kind of person I want to be, a benefit which was more profound than my growth as an artist. That's not quite accurate, it was growing into an artist which made me this new person. Acting was my entry into this world, and it is the specific craft in which I want to grow and nurture myself. I feel it starting to happen, as my rate of growth in acting seems to be greater than my rate of growth as a human being. I have trouble separating the two, so what I mean is that the growth I'm experiencing as an actor is the biggest factor in my journey now. I was on the same path, but I wasn't in shape yet. I think I hit a plateau at the end of the second quarter of Meisner, that I have been stuck at for a year and a half. To be honest with myself it was an altitude I'd never experienced in my life.
Suddenly I'm feeling myself move beyond the old plateau. I started feeling it several weeks ago when I first spoke of plateaus. I've felt these little jumps. It is signaling I'm getting beyond that old level. I hope it is also signaling I've learned to attain smaller distances between plateaus. That in itself would signal a letting go of restraints I put on myself, the ones we all are taught to wear so tightly, which was inconceivable to me several years ago. I feel like those old restraints are foreign relics of a bygone age. Am I being truthful to myself, or is it a bit of self delusion to help me shed the restraints easier? I don't feel it matters, as long as I continue discovering habits and mannerisms I built while restrained. I find it pretty hard to shed them, unless I start with recognition.
I feel like this artistic growth in theatre is a bit like backpacking, at first the most significant growth consists of being able to do the tasks which keep you on the trail and moving. Like building up your wind, legs, back, and balance to so you can carry the backpack. Then you get to a point where your legs and back are in shape, and the growth is in the variety of experiences and places you go.
The basic tools continue to strengthen and diversify, but they are at a point where you are pursuing the goals you wanted to achieve when you first put on the backpack. I think I'm finally trail-broken, where I can focus on where the journey is taking me instead of how I am making the journey. I didn't think I'd ever get past struggling with the goddamn backpack. It still requires effort and conditioning, but it is not the focus.
Like the second time I hiked to Upper Lena Lake. The first time it was all effort, strain and focus on the path so I wouldn't misstep or hurt myself. The second time a year or two later it was still strenuous -- I carried a heavier pack, maintained a faster pace -- but it felt good and the lake was more beautiful, strange and familiar than I'd pictured in my mind's eye. Maybe I'm on that path again.