Wow, a full night's sleep. That was a treat. The show went very well this weekend, better than I expected. I was surprised at one thing, and quite pleasantly. It was the first chance I'd had to really work with some of the commedia and clown work I did at Freehold during ETI (a one year conservatory type program). I've used little bits here and there in developing characters, but never as a routine or activity on stage.
As I think back on it there were a couple Lazzi's
I developed for bits of the show. I probably wouldn't have named them, but during the cast party it was mentioned people delayed their entrances while I was doing my bit with the saw and wood. I was pleased I was able to get a nice audience response, but didn't realize anyone was noticing.
I think it was reflex from the training, and plus some exploration (also a habit from the training). I still have so far to go in assimilating what we worked on two years ago, so these little triumphs are both encouraging and formative. Formative in that next time I'll do more than what comes from reflexive habit, and dive into the work deeper. And that's another thing I love about art. At fifty, I'm still going through formative experiences. How neat is that?
All I did was try to cut a piece of Masonite with a handsaw in one, and the flexibility of that dense particle board creates different problems depending on the depth of the cut. There is of course a way to do it without much trouble, but somehow that never occurred to Barney. The audience loved it, especially the last time when I finally got all the way through, and picked up the little piece and used it as a template for the next cut as the other actor entered. The other bit was cutting a 2x2 length-wise. Trying to find a way to cut it, which usually ended up with me straddling the board as it rested on sawhorses. Silly, simple, and quite effective. I guess it's the sort of things we've all futzed with at some point. George, thanks for all that physical work you had us do.
When I first decided to pursue acting, I figured I would have to find some way to enhance the non-physical aspects. Two big lessons there. First, and obvious to everyone but me I imagine, is the fact that you can't separate the physical from acting. I learned that before the first continuing ed scene study class was done, and other than the stage fright thing it was the most daunting thing for me to accept, much less embrace.
Second, was learning to embrace the physical, as I find my way into so much that way. I felt I was the world's worst athlete growing up, and to discover that physical work was not only enjoyable, but productive and something I could be good at was a huge surprise. Also, a major shift to my self-image. Every once in a while I ponder what would have happened if I'd been encouraged in art or athletics as a child. Not for long, as I believe I wouldn't be having so much fun right now. I don't think I was ever a glass half-full person before, and now I have my moments.
Hmm, does this sound boastful? Well to be utterly frank, I suppose I am a little proud. However, this was more a discovery than an accomplishment. We did a lot of work in that conservatory program and I've noticed some wonderful things from my old classmates since then. Stuff they struggled with, yet since have brought to the stage like they'd always been doing so. It has been wonderful to see them blossom. I've felt like a dud, and still hesitate to claim anything close to what they have done. Typical actor self-denigration or accurate self-appraisal? It pisses me off that I haven't the foggiest.
We still feel like the same person that walked into that first day of elementary school. It's mostly the world around us that has moved, morphed, and changed. Is it the same with developing as an artist? I don't feel much different or more competent than I did when I started seven years ago, much less two years ago. I've gotten feedback from people I trust (Dad, Joyce, Beth, Rachel, ...) that I know to be sincere. Not just because they said it, but because of what they commented on. I don't believe I'm wildly gifted, I just have passion. From my tech careers in naval aviation and computer science I know that is more important. Math is easier for me, but it doesn't have the same persistence or constancy for that I find in the theatre.
I've finally learned to avoid deflecting compliments. I still do a bit, but I'm usually gracious to the person saying nice things and even to myself. Still, there is that feeling that I should have done a hundred times better, and they missed noticing my shortcomings. Is that the difference between doing something you have a gift for and something you have a passion for? Or is it just the difference between the mundane and art?