I auditioned for Macha Monkey last week. The co-artistic director who was an auditor wrote me a gracious thank you, we'll be keeping your headshot and resume, and we'd love to see you again. Maybe I'm delusional, but I believe it. I actually did okay at the audition for a change -- maybe that's the delusional part. I actually think my old weight and natural hair color would have been better for the role, and I'd just gotten over my colds and my voice felt really resonant. Perhaps a bit much for that space. It is ironic that losing the weight, and the self-confidence may have been contra-indicated for that role.
I wrote earlier I didn't feel like I got to the place I should have been several weeks before we opened Amateurs
, until the second (and last) weekend of the run. I wasn't totally sucky, I just knew where I could have been with a reasonable effort if I wasn't hampered by the need for sleep and recuperation.
I'm starting to fold into a normal existence again. Or as normal as someone who considers their career a day job. I'm thinking about art and life a lot again, my art and my life. ETI did something for me I wasn't expecting. Since I took that first acting class in Spring of 2000, and found myself on the boards for the first in the Winter of that year I've pursued training with more vigor than getting roles. It was a fantastic first experience on the boards, being in a professional production in packed large venues. It drove me to pursue acting as a vocation, and to get the tools so I could bring as much to an audience as I get from them.
It was partly a confidence thing. "I have to be better before I'm worthy of an audience." Too self-critical? Maybe. I don't really think so. When you feel you have something worthwhile to do, something you are driven towards by love, passion, and longing why trifle? I wanted to bring out the best I could. I never thought I was especially gifted, but I had the desire. I am gifted technically. It got me through flight training and being an officer in the Navy. It also taught me much less talented people with a passion would outperform me. A wonderful lesson for a precocious kid. I wasn't a Mozart, but even without being a prodigy I was a royal pain in the ass for fellow students and teachers. I shuffled along, knowing when I needed or wanted I could be the kid who would be dropped off the bell curve so the others could pass. Big deal. Without challenge your grasp never grows, you don't muscle up.
I have to work hard to get much done as an actor. Those gifted people awe and frustrate me. I know from experience my passion can move me to their level, but it will take more work. It will also give me more range. All things I learned from slacking in so many of the technical fields I've worked in. I've seen it in my peers in all my acting classes too. Having a gift doesn't do many people any favors. Having the gift of challenge and passion is a better thing for me, and I suspect most of us.
I realized I'm at a point where I still want to improve my skills, but feel non-classroom experience is what I really need and want. I feel I have the chops necessary to bring something good to an audience, and if anything it makes me want to be lots better. My confidence, training, and experience are at a point where I am as driven to find productions as I was to find classes. Little things like the better ability to keep children engaged when I read, or realizing that I'm an order of magnitude better as a performer, even when I'm sick as a dog and can't do the work I need. It's exciting. I'm hungry to stretch myself. I want to be so much better. Yet I get choked up when I think about what I can now bring to an audience, and how it affects me in return.
there was a scene where I did a couple bars from Cabaret
(Money Makes the World Go Round). It wasn't supposed to be good (thank God), and one of the other cast members joins me. I got to the point where I hammed it nicely, meaning doing it with enthusiasm as badly as it needed to be. Making a huge fool of my character, but something was missing, something to let the audience finish the experience of the train wreck with a laugh. We studied 'takes' when we were doing commedia work last year. Part of it is timing, which is impossible to quantify, but I seem to generally do pretty well. So I did a double take, first to the cast then to the audience, with a subtly shrugging return. It ended up being one of my best laughs of the show, instead of a moment of awkward silence. Jane started delaying her entrance after that, to let the audience really get down. At one level it was a very technical bit of physical comedy, but there is an art to it. It is part of my toolbox now. Thank you George. (Of all our instructors last year, George was considered by more of us than any other instructor to truly love us, and that is saying one Hell of a lot.)
I've grown as an artist and actor, and there are times like now where I realize and acknowledge it. When we change it usually feels gradual. Even big things. ETI changed me in so many ways, yet I'm generally not aware of them. I've more confidence during auditions and rehearsals, better presence and awareness, etc. And I'm as driven as ever to continue improving. The change feels gradual, but it was only a 10 month program, and the actual change I think was profound. A number of people I greatly respect have said as much too.
I changed my eating habits three and a half months ago, to deal with food sensitivities and have lost a touch over 35 lbs. It is a profound change, yet it doesn't feel that way. I suspect the confidence and perseverance I gained through ETI enabled me to do this. People are noticing it too. My old officemate ran into me in the cafeteria Monday while I was waiting for some rice and stir fry, and was visibly startled at the change. One of my manager's peers, who is a fellow motorcycle enthusiast called me "Scott the incredible disappearing man." Or was it "shrinking man." Other friends and acquaintances notice it now as well.
I am going through great change and growth as an artist. Doing much the same physically. Emotions well up when I think about it. I'm not sure what they are, and given free rein would they likely have me crying or laughing. I think there'll be tears in there somewhere. One of these evenings, when the time is right I suppose, it will finally hit me directly. In the meantime I'll just keep on dancing and working on poetry and monologues around the house when the gentler mood hits me.