Acting Up

My musings, thoughts, rants, and discoveries. - Scott Maddock

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Location: Redmond, Washington, U.S. Inc. (Formerly U.S.A.)

Back to Blogging

I haven't blogged here since 2012. Why am I making a stab at it again?

I realized two things about social media I wanted to get away from. First was that I was often using it as a journal, which is boring and maybe TMI for those platforms. Secondly I was using it too much for my taste, so that I felt like a tool for marketers rather than using social media as a tool for my ends.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good Reflections

I didn't hear back on the Stoppard callback from last Wednesday, which was no surprise as I mentioned I'd done myself a disfavor when I read it aloud ahead of time making a choice (good thing), but committing to it during the read and getting in a bit of a rut so I kept falling back into the choice when I got direction (bad thing). Still, it is slightly disappointing to not get a "Thanks, but no thanks." It was a pain in the neck commute that day and I was given the wrong address, so I would have appreciated the courtesy even more. Still, I had fun at the audition even if I was still berating myself, which is a positive step.

I had a wonderful two days off this week. We closed As You Like It on Saturday (after two production meetings with other groups for me), then I saw A Streetcar Named Desire at the Intiman on Sunday afternoon, and left afterwards for a few nights with the family at the Duckabush River.

Our final show was terrific, with some extra horsing around which was very well-suited for the show -- I usually get nervous when people do that. A lot was insider stuff that gave extra life for the audience and about killed the director with laughter. Our cast party is this Saturday, and I expect it to be a good time. I had two work friends come to the show, one from my current job came the first weekend, and for the next to last show an old acquaintance from Corbis where I worked in 2000. Neither of us expected to see the other. On the other hand none of my family (the folks) and group of friends (Beth, Rachel, Greg, Bob, et al) who come to most of my shows made it to this one. Kind of a funny and enjoyable irony.

Seeing Streetcar was fun (it was as good as people have been saying), as I went with my scene partner from Meisner, where we did a scene between Mitch and Blanche a little over four years ago. I'll always be able to figure out that date, as it was the same night Marlon Brando passed away. Even though we didn't have Stanley in our scene, it felt like a bit of a cosmic connection and I still hope he has a generous soul.

Then off to the Duckabush River and family for a few days. My niece who is about to have her first baby was on her way out, and it was a pleasure to see her and meet her boyfriend. In the ten minutes or so I was quite impressed with him, and I hope they all do as well as I'd hope and guess from my impression.

We used to have Chautauqua's for Thanksgiving at the Duckabush in the 80's and 90's, and when the crowd got larger and less tolerant of primitive Winter conditions a couple insisted with token resistance we stop Thanksgiving in the woods. At that point the homegrown sharing and entertainment kind of died without fanfare. A number of us wanted to resurrect the tradition, but the Thanksgiving get together pretty much dissipated too. I missed the Chautauqua, because it was one of the factors in getting me to try an acting class to get over my stultifying stage fright.

It turned out they were planning one for Sunday night. I recited The Cremation of Sam McGee. I treated it seriously which made the funny parts funnier. In the past I'd done another of Service's poems, a similar one and this was a very different experience. It is still harder to perform for close friends and family (unless they are part of a larger audience), but I was able to take on the character and circumstances to where I really felt like I brought some people into the world of the Yukon as I understand it. That made the story more fun for me too. Probably the bigger difference was I enjoyed sharing something I appreciated, rather than enduring it as a trial. It was great fun, and I was flattered by the surprise from people in the difference between now and the last time I participated.

I made my black bean vegetable soup for Monday's dinner, which I'm starting to think of as Summer Stew. It was a big hit, and everybody still around the next day had it for lunch and several people asked for more before I left. Like the last time at the cabin, I read Dr. Seuss (plus Harold and the Purple Crayon) to the younger nephews and nieces, while a few of the older ones wandered into the area to listen.

I had fun, and realized that the anxious and claustrophobic feeling I get in large noisy groups is dissipated when reading or being silly. Wish I'd noticed that as a kid. I'd have had a lot more fun, and maybe captured some of the childhood I left behind all too early. I don't know if I've ever gone into that here in detail. Probably because not, having the childhood interrupted experience is what brought me to theatre and the arts relatively late, and made life so enjoyable now. Had I not stopped being happy at six or seven, would I appreciate and savor what I have now as much? I think not. I may be wrong, but it is not a productive concern. Savor the moment as much as I can right now, so I can honor the past and future with more facility. That's the better approach for me.

The better approach for me partially led to a thought I kind of like, both artistically and spiritually. Consider the thought that every person alive, past and present, is you. For me it doesn't matter if I look at it as a logical exercise or an actual possibility for reincarnation or as being a part of a larger spiritual whole. It is simply an acknowledgement that at some level I am capable of being a Gandhi or a Hitler. I suspect that is why so many of us detest seeing news of tragedy or atrocities, and savor news which is hopeful or joyful. Either way we see our own reflection.

Scars Fade

I was married twenty years ago today, and was officially divorced after the second anniversary. Since 2000, this is the second, maybe third time I've remembered the anniversary, and only because I just had to write the day's date for some code I was unit testing. Usually I don't think of it until my birthday, which falls on Sunday. And two or three times in the same period I've forgotten my birthday. A lapse I could not have imagined as a child.

The last post, about entertaining the thought we may be a single spirit somehow living in and through every other person got me thinking. I remembered meeting at a mutual friend's wedding, after already having been acquainted with most of her family. I was crazy for her, and those feelings outlasted the relationship by years, which in my memory seemed to die about the same time we said "I do." I still don't understand the distant coldness I never once broke through during the marriage. I don't even know how much originated from my side. That empathetic thought yesterday urged me to reminisce more than I had since getting divorced nearly eighteen years ago. As a result I feel more at peace about that history. Not reconciled or anything artificial like that, which would not make sense nearly twenty years later.

Is it time, or maturing that when I take a moment to look at the life of the relationship the happy memories are what stand out now? Or more of the empathetic world view?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Blah, Blah

I got away from my regular posts, feeling they were becoming mundane and repetitive. Well, duh. It's a journal, and life is like that. Plus I've been busy, but that didn't stop me in the past.

It's an interesting thing for me. When I'm actively journalling I feel more productive, a combination of the perceived and the actual. When I note what I've done it is more immediate, and gives me more feeling of accomplishment. Then there is a little added pressure: "What will I write about in the next few days?" I don't respond to pressure from others, but that subtle pressure from myself seems to be a motivator.

Tomorrow we close As You Like It. It will be the fourth show I've done this year, ironic as I'd decided to pick and choose more and take it easy. Well, two Shakespeare productions is very nice to have under my belt. Plus this is the third paid show this year. They are modest stipends, and I generally don't cash the checks as a surprise donation when they balance their books.

I had a callback for a Stoppard one act (After Magritte) on Wednesday. I hadn't auditioned, but got a referral from an actor (and director) I worked with in Troilus and Cressida. It was fun, and I'd read the play aloud for my character ahead of time. Next time I do that I'll read aloud with neutrality. My take on the character was of course different than that of the director, and I had extra difficulty in taking direction on the spot because of that habit. Nothing I couldn't get rid of with an hour's work, but I kept falling back into the choice I'd made for myself. Better than bringing nothing, but still limiting. I don't expect to get that part, but I sure learned a lot about how I should prepare in the future. Plus, it was a lot of fun.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I found out late Tuesday night in an E-mail from my folks that one of my nieces is due to have a daughter in a couple weeks. Joy and a little sadness around that. One of joy and fun at my little brother a grandpa, my folks great grandparents, but my sister and I Great Aunt and Uncle? I'm not so wild about the latter. Seriously, it's exciting and joyful to see the start of a new generation.

The sadness comes from the distance of my nearest geographical relatives. It's a reminder that not all people you've made yourself available to will respond. Years ago I learned to let go of those who choose not to give you the time of day. As a result there are relatives and a few old friends who are not part of my life, and vice versa. I don't think that is a bad thing, but life events like this are a reminder that it is not a perfect world either. No matter how much I deny, there is a little twinge in finding out so late and indirectly. As I think about it, I realize it doesn't matter if it is simple oversight or a thought out snub. I know my role. To be available. Nothing more I can or should do.

Rather, I choose to dwell on those friends and relatives who embrace me as a part of their world, while making infrequent gestures to those who have pushed you away, in case something changes. That is a lot easier and more enjoyable than chewing over why someone else struggles to even share a cold shoulder. The latter is not fun for me, not fun for them, so why push?

I've had enough friends and relatives who build up elaborate judgemental fantasies on why they have a divine right and moral imperative to be angry. Or why some imagined anger on my part is unreasonable. Ever have someone tell you that you're crazy and selfish to be angry about smurmions, and won't acknowledge your statement that you don't know what a smurmion is? That is what a big part of my family life felt like growing up, and the behavior I was beginning to learn/emulate. I worked to check out of that cycle a long time ago. Most of my active relationships are with those who haven't got a clue as to what a smurmion is either. I can't stop other people's smurmion fixations, but if I work to eliminate mine, half or more of the baggage for reestablishing ties are out of the way.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Them (It's All About Them)

War crimes for Osama's driver? What did he do, run a red light in a war zone? It is past Orwellian to see a chauffeur who himself is a victim of torture being tried for war crimes. I feel there probably are cases for war crime prosecutions against the actual people planning and carrying out the attacks, and certainly against our own president, vice president, attorney general, and secdef to name a few for killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands more Americans. However, I can't in my wildest imaginings consider prosecuting a pilot for Air Force One for war crimes for ferrying around our all-american mass murderers, yet we are doing just that.

After six or seven years of illegal detainment and interrogation the first and best show-case in dubya's kangaroo court is a driver for the guy we had the Brits let go? (Referring to when they had Osama located and surrounded and we told them to hold off until we could get our guys there for the photo op.)

What do we as a population do to show our mettle and good old American values? America, now considers the domestic economy to be a bigger issue than this war. Is it any wonder we're mostly mocked by the rest of the world which once mostly admired us?

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's All About Me

Whew. Since we finished The Amazing Dicky it's been more than a little hectic for me. Busy at work, with a new upgrade to our web site last Friday. My mom's 75th birthday last Saturday, which wasn't a big time commitment. Some stress in seeing mom again I'm sure, though I never really acknowledged it. And, Eclectic Theatre needed an ensemble actor for All's Well That Ends Well, which was playing all last weekend starting Thursday. I took that opportunity knowing the stress it would create, but desirous of another Shakespeare production on my resume, and this one an in the park type. Plus I really do like Shakespeare.

It was less than two weeks rehearsal for me, and some scenes I'd only run once prior to the first preview. Even with just five lines and a song it is tough for me to have them there for natural recall without a few runs. I apologize to the bard for paraphrasing one of my lines on the first preview. Half way through I'm thinking, "Wait this is all cocked up and backwards", but in that moment of shame and panic I charged right through somehow managing to not lose or change the meaning. And it wasn't the typical phrase or word swap, rather starting with a cascade of key words. Thanks for those improv workshops John, Gary, and Rachel!

I was beating myself up quite a bit for taking on a project without a real break after working two concurrently. On Saturday the Artistic Director made a point of giving me a very nice compliment on my work. So, that doesn't keep me from trying to do much better and find new pearls in my bits for the last three shows. It does make the show a lot more enjoyable, and positive.

Singing? A tremulous and horrified question asked by any of you that have heard me sing. Happily Touchstone castigates the performance so my singing ability is perfect for the scene. I'm scared of singing, and on the last show I actually found myself singing pretty much strongly and on key for the first of the three short verses. Just that thought was enough to make the other two verses appropriately god-awful. Even that is fun, and it may well be a presumptuous flight of fancy, but with a lot of practice I might actually be able to sing a bit.

I had an interesting experience on Thursday or Friday's performance. I'd talked with someone as we watched a little boy running on the lawn across the drive from our production. We mused, "We used to play like that thoughtlessly, and now we work our tails off to get there again." Not long afterward I was far over on the stage left side of the area we were working when little girl ran skipping and merrily laughing down what was the edge of our playing area. Like a sprite flitting across our Forest of Arden. I had an emotional recollection of the feeling of play as a kid. Remembering playing cowboys or cops and robbers, and knowing when I got someone with my toy cap pistol and then when Brian Redmond got me. He was angry at first because I didn't die immediately, but he got me in the stomach so I didn't have to die instantly and got to nicely writhe in my agonized death throes, which more than soothed his crossness. We both knew he got me dead. We were still Scott and Brian, both 6 and 5 years old, and at the same time fully invested in our characters and make-believe world.

These little epiphanies are not infrequent. At the moment they are experienced they feel profound, yet they each represent an incremental movement back to what we once were. There were some kids who didn't know when they were hit or got a hit. Where does that fit in? Were we on a different wavelength? Were some of us more into the game itself, and others more into claiming a 'real world' victory regardless of the reality we were working in? This has gone beyond the scope of the art of acting into questions of art, greed, and integrity. Fun places to go, but for now I'm more interested in growing my art (or lack thereof). That keeps me plenty occupied.