Hello, peoples of the Internet(s)!
I've been thinking a lot about honesty this week. And how we hide from ourselves, and how we hide from our authenticity, our authentic selves. We wear masks all the time. In fact, I'm an actor. One could argue that I chose a profession where I strive to hide behind other selves ALL THE TIME. But what I do is make-believe. It's storytelling. It's sacred and sometimes even healing, in its best form. In its lesser form, it is hopefully, at the least, entertaining and an escape.
But what about the ways that you and I hide from ourselves? The ways that we dodge our truths. And all the things that really might be going on inside of us, underneath our armor. If the actor's job is to be comfortable being uncomfortable... if the actor's job is to expose themselves... if the actor's job is to hold the mirror up to nature...
Then the next question for me is this: how do we, as human beings -- as non-actors -- strive for the same discomfort and exposure and reflection in our own lives? Can you imagine what we might discover in that brave exploration?
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
“I’s been livin’ a long time in yesterday, Sandy chile, an’ I knows there ain’t no room in de world fo’ nothin’ mo’n love. I know, chile! Ever’thing there is but lovin’ leaves a rust on yo’ soul. An’ to love sho ‘nough, you got to have a spot in yo’ heart fo’ ever’body – great an’ small, white an’ black, an’ them what’s good an’ them what’s evil – ‘cause love ain’t got no crowded-out places where de good ones stay an’ de bad ones can’t come in. When it gets that way, then it ain’t love.” - Langston Hughes
"What is urgent is seldom important, and what is important is seldom urgent." - Dwight Eisenhower
“Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.” - Bob Carter
So here's the thing... we're still in the midst of a global pandemic, but I'm continuing to learn during this strange time. I've been teaching classes online since we went into quarantine in March of 2020, and I found some amazing surprise takeaways from my students. I share them with you here, and I hope you're as inspired as I have been:
* I was struck with the intimacy of this format. This strange hybrid of film & theater, because it’s in close-up, we have to be even more intimate with each other.
* We’re becoming better listeners, because the audio is more reliable than the video, with lag & latency issues. So while being deprived of some senses, others are being heightened.
* Awareness of the need to sometimes slow down and make space for the character, honoring their time and not our adrenaline rush of pacing. Don’t speed. Slow down. Honor my interpretive choices rather than have one foot out the door of the audition.
* Things can land profoundly, you can listen better, and there’s a safety to the risks that we have to take when we’re taking them from our homes.
* I thought acting online was always going to suck, but I’ve learned that we can turn it into a revelation. And a revolution.
* We turned lemons into limoncello. This is even better than lemonade.
* We are resilient. And our storytelling can still be sacred.
* My fears about the failures of online performances were, on a weekly basis, disproven.
* The importance of finding a place to play.
* Feeling more ready to plunge back into the artistic world.
* It is possible, both online and in self-tapes, to use our creativity and our imaginations to create whole worlds.
* In addition to learning about the importance of taking risks and connecting and raising the stakes, I’ve also felt a freedom and an empowerment that is based in my control of my own creativity. Not to mention hope and inspiration in these hard times. Taking the sacred breath. Making time and space for myself. And the reminder that there is always a way to connect, even in isolation.
* I now know that it is in fact possible to make something good online, something that not only is entertaining but also feels good as an actor. I’m no longer as anxious about being remote, I’m feeling much more confident.