Monday, October 22, 2012

I don't know where imma gonna go...

I started doing theatre when I was sixteen. I had long hair, incredibly bad teeth and I at that point had been a major outcast. For many reasons. My teeth were green from lack of care and all broken i smelled bad and I was unkempt in every way you can imagine. Theatre helped me escape. I was good at it too. Or so I thought. at 18 I got my dentures and was immediately more noticed by my high school peers. Showing me exactly how petty and shallow people really are. When I went to Pierce college I continued in theatre and saw myself on tape for the first time and I knew...I was fucking horrible. So I did what I could do to get better. I did every show I could. I cut my hair which somehow made me more noticeable to the opposite sex. showing me once again how shallow people really are. I worked with a lot of great people in the area. Then something happened.

I began to get depressive and my moods would swing all over the place. It didn't help my love life and it certainly didn't help my theatre life. I broke down even more when I went through a series of love affairs that ripped my heart right out of my chest. I consigned myself to working only in shows done by a good friend of mine. It was gypsy theatre and it gave me the opportunity to do shows that never got done in this community. we lost money and we didn't care we weren't acting to make money. theatre was never about money for us.

I did a production of Cripple of Inishmaan that saw an angry Gabriel getting raw eggs cracked over his face. Not a pleasant moment. the cast thought it was hilarious of course but somehow i couldn't shake my rage. I realized then that i had lost something. there was a time when I enjoyed acting simply for what it was. I did great shows mediocre shows and terrible shows but then I got my soul crushed to put it over dramatically and I became some sort of theatre snob with no real reason to be so. I had lost my love. So I quit. I didn't set foot in a theatre for 4 years. I was so angry at everything. I thought it was because I lost my love for it. but that wasn't it.

I was afraid. I was afraid of being unaccepted by everyone. A fear that still haunts me to this day. I know I am loved and yet I fear at any moment the entire world will abandon me and leave me alone. Not an uncommon fear, and not uncommon for those who have it, to do what I did, and hermit themselves proactively. I even moved to the bay area as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

I went to a city that wasn't my home for 2 years. The whole time I dreamed of getting back to a theatre but I was too scared. I also was not aware that my snobbery had not ended. So when I returned married and full of anger at myself for denying an entire part of myself  I still never auditioned for anything. Then I got a call from an unlikely place. A director wanted me to audition for Macbeth because he had seen me in As you like it so many years ago at Lakewood Playhouse. Lakewood was the theatre i first acted in outside of high school. It was like coming home again. I was so nervous I couldn't get a grasp on any sort of character until it had gotten to being off book. I was so reclusive from everyone because yet again I was afraid that I would not be acceptable. And the list of local favorite players had changed so much. No one knew me anymore. I did a few pieces largely those I felt would exercise my abilities. And it only continued my feeling like was in this for some higher purpose. like I was superior. but I am not. I am not superior. i am a scared little boy with many issues about feeling unaccepted by the world. not an uncommon trait among actors but the problem with these feelings is that you aren't logically able to see how many others feel just like you do and it only perpetuates the self fulfilling prophecy of being alone.

That I am sure was the reason most of my relationships have ended. My fear is very palpable and can hit very hard. I explode, I implode, I am massively emotionally destructive. As many people witnessed recently. There was a review.

Now I don't want to hurt any one's feelings here but I am going to be honest. I am currently in a show. A show I was by no means excited to do. A show that I feel I have struggled with to get my part to its feet. I deluded myself into thinking it was going to be well within my grasp because it wasn't a show that I considered to be too good. But I was wrong. the show is good because the people in it are good. They worked hard over some really tough problems and I don't think I treated this as seriously as I could. That being said I don't think my performance is two dimensional as was reported. The character has a lot of depth and I have begun to learn about subtle details that I would never have thrown in before. details so small the audience may not notice...but I do. and that intrigues me. That I can find such insignificant moments so challenging. how does one act like coffee is hot, when the stand in liquid is ice cold. It is those moments, where I learn, that bring me joy.

But I forgot that. Instead I ranted and raved about how wrong the reviewer was. I exploded about how I couldn't give a shit what he thought or what an audience thought. but that isn't the truth. I am just scared. Scared that someone will read it and say "you know he is right. Gabriel is the shittiest actor I have ever seen. He is such a drag to that show and it is his performance that is responsible for the fact that it isn't doing as well as it could have."

What i have forgotten is that the show is subjective  a lot of people have really enjoyed it and more will come and enjoy it or not and it has nothing to do with me. It never will. But more than that i have forgotten the joy.

I do shows because I have fun doing them but I used to be so full of joy to be on the stage that nothing could have brought me down. That, my friends is going to change. this show will not change in characterization but it will be better. because I am going to find the joy in it for me. come see it.

And come see my next show at Tacoma Little Theatre. Miracle on 34th street. Yeah it's cheesy and christmasy and full of fluff and sugar coated but I will find the joy in it and I will be damned if I will ever forget again. Besides this show could use a pirate like me in it.

With deep and abiding affection,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Am I the asshole here...

Recently a friend of a friend has been thinking about getting into acting. He has taken a few acting workshops and read a few books about famous actors. He now believes that his plan to spend a year getting things together and then travelling to california for acting as he puts it will go off without a hitch. I spent a portion of my day explaining to him as a person who has been in theatre for 18 years and has a ton of friends and contacts who work in and around this business that his plan is flawed. He has no background, no film or theatre credits to his name, no agent, no headshot,s no education,  no experience, and  worst of all no clue that all of that is hard to get in a place like L.A. where you are going up against several thousand other people who have all that shit already.

But now in explaining this to him I am accused of being an asshole and of being pessimistic and unsupportive.

I am going to sail to Japan. In a boat I build myself. I have no background in carpentry. I have no idea how to make a seaworthy vessel. I have no background in sailing. I have however, read a few books on famous boatmakers and have been to a couple of small carpentry classes. I feel assured that with the knowledge I have I can build a boat on my own and sail across the pacific.

Now do you let me live in my fantasy realm, or do you tell me "hey dumbass! you are going to fucking drown!" ?

For some reason acting is the only profession that has this issue. Tons of people think they can run off to a major city and become famous actors with little to no work. You never hear people say that rather than go to school they will become a doctor by reading Grey's anatomy, watching Dr. House and then running over to their nearest hospital to try out.

Guess what dickholes...acting is work. It is always being out of work and always reinventing yourself. It requires thought, planning, and a ton of self discovery. It requires some general knowledge of the industry and how it works and it requires a tremendous amount of humility. As well as iron thick skin to deal with rejection on a massive scale.

But I am not allowed to say that. I suppose I should just let people fuck up on their own and learn for themselves. Which is something I have advocated my whole life. Let them learn it on their own that this was in need of more planning.

But this time I am tired. I am tired of seeing people play out this same cliched bullshit.the actor with a backpack and some money travelling to hollywood to make it big. Go fuck yourself. You are nothing new and you are nothing original. You have been seen and dismissed before you even get on the plane. It is not only insulting to expect that you are different, it is insulting to the legions of performers and actors and musicians who work their asses off for next to nothing not because they want to be famous but because there is something fundamentally wrong with them. They need this life. It is what keeps them breathing, keeps them sane. And to think you got it all figured out before you have even attempted an audition, spits in the face of all that they hold sacred. Fuck you little kid. Go to school and learn something and don't come back til you do.

But maybe I am wrong. What do you think? Let me know.

With deep and abiding affection,