Tuesday, October 24, 2017

You Are Not Stuck

Change is coming, you are not stuck whether or not it feels like it. Often progress in an acting career is not obvious, then one day an opportunity comes that never could have come earlier, and everything for the past weeks/months/years is revealed as having lead up to that opportunity. However, between those flashes of clarity, those outside validations, we may struggle to continue to act in faith.

The work itself, and the process of learning lines, preparing roles and auditioning are our tasks. The world may not grant us what we want, or when we want it. And even as it affects our lives, it is kind of none of our business. Nor is Luck. I've written before about luck, but it is worth reiterating again here: Luck is out of your control. What you do isn't. Focus on what you do.

So take breaks, find stillness, and find a way to avoid bitterness. Our lives include our work, and nothing we do can guarantee what will want will come our way. We can work diligently to stack the deck in our favor, to run our race, but in the end: our professional lives may not be totally under our control. And that's ok. Not only was this always true, it would be true in any other line of work too.

Writer and producer David Milch once said, acting in faith is how to not act in fear, and while he was speaking about life in a general sense, it applies to our work too. Fear has been called the opposite of love, and our work may benefit from loving our characters, our colleagues and ourselves.

If you are frustrated, feel frustrated, if you are angry, feel angry, and if you are feeling down and like nothing can improve, then feel it and also remember it's a feeling not a fact.

Keep doing what makes sense to do, take care of yourself, and those you love. Remember to have fun today, not just tomorrow. Let me know if I can help.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stillness

Sometimes "nothing" is the right thing to do as an actor, acting needs silences. Like a piece of music, with rests, our work is not all big apparent and obvious behavior. Life needs stillness too. Can you be still.

Speech matters, lines are important as is what we do. But also lines are not the be all end all of our work as actors; acting is not recitation and behavior alone. Who we are, our "being" is involved.

Sometimes the right move is not to move. I don't mean just freeze, but on camera just thinking a thought, or feeling a feeling, can be captured by the mics and lenses; the impassive machines will see and hear the things in front of them dispassionately, and we can trust that. We don't always have to feed them; we as actors don't have to exert effort to make ourselves be witnessed between action and cut, to make glass and diaphragms do their task.

I coach actors (please let me know if I can help you) and sometimes our task includes finding how to help the actor let all the externals, the extrinsic motivation (I want the part, I want my work to be well received, I want them to like me, etc.) go, and simply focus. Not always easy to do this, and even more challenging depending how your day/week/month is going. Faith that it will be ok can help. Sometimes it is breathing. Sometimes something else. And sometimes there is not a special tactic, or secret move to make. Sometimes existing is the right thing, the only thing, the main thing.

So breathe, relax, and let a moment happen. Not every instant works because we exert our will on it. In life and work, being engaged with right now, and open to the world, is often the best course to follow.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Acting with Uncertainty

Feeling that we know exactly what is perfect to do as an actor may be a first clue we are missing the mark.

It is worth noting: our work as actors is always meant to have an infusion of doubt, or uncertainty. Those aren't the right words for it, but total control and design is not quite what we're ever meant to do; facing uncertainty with courage has even been called our main task, and with good technique brought to bear we do have more options. That good technique can mean greater mastery of our instrument, but it shoudn't be a substitute for the immediacy of the moment. Work well, have fun; good luck.

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