Yesterday you asked a huge huge question about wrestling as a young actor in a pandemic. You questioned how do you keep artistry alive – how do you call yourself an actor when there are no shows and no theater? Well here is a pretty big shocker – I could not call myself a “Designer” until after I had done my first Broadway show, Sunday in the Park with George. To me the word meant too much and I did not think I could live up to what it meant. Slowly after Sunday I could see a way to begin to say I was a designer.
Had I changed?- not at all.
Had the world’s perception of me changed? Yes somewhat. So the truth of the matter is I was a designer whether I felt I deserved the hallowed word or not. My point, you say?? It is exactly this – I did not need a Broadway show to be a designer – I needed to find approval in my own mind. Because you see the word designer is about looking around and seeing the choices made in the world and taking them in. It is about sitting here now in my home studio seeing the golden yellow leaves out the panes of white metal edged glass in my window and recognizing how the color of the brick morphs in so beautifully with the golden leaves. It is about seeing out the corner of my eye how the curve of LILAK’s (the cat) back contrasts with the square of the ottoman she sleeps on and how the spikes of her white fur direct themselves down the spine of her back with the energy of a dynamically drawn line.
What I am saying to you is you are an actor every time to watch a person walk in the subway and note how they lift one foot higher than the other and slouch a shoulder while they swing their head- you make up a character – you inhabit them for a single second and take in their world. How about the child you teach in school each day who inhabits their imagination in such a way that the whole world seems delightful- what parts of them will be forming a character for you in the future? Then there is the child’s Dad you told me about who sent you all out to the backyard for class while he had to be on the phone – what about the way he used his pauses in his language or the way he picks up the phone – can those things be useful when you portray an character in the future?
My offer here for you is that the words – actor and designer – are states of being. They are states of human understanding and diligent watching that amount to taking sandpaper to the ends of your fingers so that your sense of touch is so raw you can feel it thru your whole being.
What I think you are missing in this pandemic is the sense of being an actor along with a collaborative group of people – I miss it too. But I am not less a designer because I can not join that group for the time being – what I am is a sponge who can glean so much; so that when I can be with my tribe again I have more to give and more understanding of what I still need to learn from the rest of them. I challenge you to find each day aspects of life that define character for you – is it timber of voice – the way someone uses their hands- the way they bite their bottom lip before they say something difficult to admit? You see the root word of the word – ACTOR- is “ACT”.
To act means to behave or function in a given way – one must proceed by taking stock of what gift of joy you want to give yourself by celebrating behavior at each opportunity and cataloguing it, so it is at your fingertips for the future.
The sheer act of taking this on and igniting you imagination each day with it makes you an Actor – what a blessed word…..