March 1st, 2018
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII [All the world’s a stage]
William Shakespeare, 1564 – 1616
I managed to secure a job! It’s only a 10-hour per week gig but it pays well and involves co-ordinating a project called “Community Champions“, encouraging people in the community to assist and speak out against domestic violence.
I have a number of applications in for jobs with a few more hours as well, from labouring and a potential building apprenticeship to disability support work and teacher support. I find landing on the ground in a new place is a great time to open myself up to new possibilities. It’s a chance to release who you have previously been and see where the new move takes you.
With that in mind, I also followed up on a thought that often occurred to me during The Longest Walk NZ. Since you are reading this blog, it’s probably no surprise to you that I am devoting a lot of energy to constructing my life as I would like it to be, as opposed to getting trapped into a default pattern. Many of these inquiries lead to changes in internal practice rather than external circumstance. The things we believe and choose are the things that determine our direction and success.
This line of thinking led me to reimagine what I thought about actors and acting as a profession. Choosing to be a professional actor, like any professional artist, is a long shot. Success is determined as much by good luck as by good management. Or at least that’s how it can seem on the surface. The reality may be different. All actors (or at least those not riding on someone else’s coat tails) face the same odds. Yet some of them convert those odds into a career. You could argue that talent plays a part in this, but I bet if you asked the successful ones, they’d say choices were far more important.
A good actor has to persevere not only in their belief that they can make it in the face of harsh and repeated rejection, but they also have to persevere in honing their craft. The former challenge is tough enough and the vast majority of people will never know such self-belief. Although that is admirable in itself, the latter task is what interests me. In order to be a good actor, one has to successfully portray a depth of character that cannot exist unless it is felt and experienced.
The actors you know from big movies are ALL good actors. Even the bad ones are only bad by comparison to a handful of elite performers. If they can’t convince an audience, they linger in the realms of pornography, bad theatre, infomercials and B movies.
The way I see it, the difference must occur at a very deep level. It must necessitate the removal, or stepping aside, of a person’s reflexive behaviours and image of self. It requires a person to strip themselves back to the basics of the human experience before layering on a whole new person. Someone with a different history, different beliefs, difference behaviours and a different perspective on life. To me, this seems like great practise for exactly the type of internal work I want to devote my energies to.
I’m not interested in fame. Not in the slightest. I had a brief taste of that last year and you can keep it, thank you very much. Money only interests me to the extent that it can invoke freedom. But the practice of confronting fears, insecurities and self-doubt as well as the actual business of re-inventing an experience of “self”… those things compel me to give it a nudge. In fact, I believe it is precisely because we see how people have accepted these challenges and excelled that drive the phenomenon of fame.
By separating others as “celebrities” from the common man/woman, we unconsciously forgive ourselves for not having risen to our own challenges. They can do it because they are “talented” or “special”. They are different or “other” when compared to us. Logically, we know it not to be true if we think about it. They are also just people after all. But if we think about it to that degree, our excuses dissolve. The difference in those who succeed (at anything) is what beliefs they choose to hold.
So when I saw the local drama society, I enquired about it on Facebook. That led to mention of a play having auditions. The men they’d had at auditions hadn’t fitted and ‘Would I like to try out?’… ‘Oh, and by the way, it’s the role as the male lead in a musical production of The Addams Family that we need to fill’. Gulp. Oh well. Sink or swim, I guess. Caution to the wind, I decided to give it a go with the attitude that the very worst that could happen is I get experience of what an audition is like.
The audition was… well… terrifying. Standing alone on stage, I had to belt out my most convincing attempt at one of the songs in the play. Unaccompanied. Just a handful of people staring up at me in serious appraisal. Scrutinising my performance and deciding whether I had what they needed in the role: A lead role with a whole heap of lines, a couple of solo songs to sing and several more in co-operation with others. In a production that, while it is no Broadway acting company, is intended to polish up as a piece of quality theatre.
Did I mention that they want their lead to be very Spanish? Next up came a cold reading with a Spanish accent at a Spanish pace. I was in WAY over my head, but I’d already confessed as much to the production crew and they were all really supportive. And I must’ve sold it because I got the part. I will be stripping away Stephen and learning to become Gomez Addams for the next few months for a stage show in Greymouth.
After that, I decided to swing by the local pub on the way home. I came in for a celebratory/wind-down beer and left with a job. Not even sure how that happened, to be honest. But the Wild Food Festival is in town in a couple of weeks and they needed a hand. So I shall be putting my barman hat on once again. Quite a week. But the next few will likely prove to be more eventful still.