Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Actors...I shit 'em

I have said before that I started acting when I was sixteen. When I was fifteen I watched a group from the high school play some theatre games for us as an enticement to join the theatre. One of the girls in the group was a friend of my brother's so that made it seem cool. Plus I had done a ton of improv games with my father and the church group that I was a part of up until I had my falling out with organized religion, but that is another story entirely. 

Through the years I have worked with some great people and a surprising number of them are dead now and no one in the theatre scene remembers them. Great men. Great women gone from people's memory. People I truly loved. My high school drama  teacher, the woman who taught me all my basics, dead. Remembered only by Lakes High School alumni who were old enough to take her class. Dr. Les Price, who believed in my talent as a young actor, died of cancer. Remembered by only a few people who I have worked with and keep in touch with. Doug Saxby, A lovely, wonderful man who captured my attention every time he spoke. When he spoke it was always something worth hearing. Dead. Of course he was in his late seventies when I met him but still...no one but a few people I converse with remember him. And those are just a few of the souls who directed me on stage and in life.

Now, most of the people I know in theatre are still alive. The number of them that I respect...well let's just say that there aren't many.

You are probably wondering where this is all leading.

Doug Saxby once told me that a famous actor used to look through the curtain at the audience and whisper silently "You sons of bitches" but when he went onstage he made the audience love him. Stephen Borsuk (alive) once told me when playing a character to go out and fuck the audience. Make them scream and want to fuck you. But my favorite mentor for theatre I have ever had is Henryk Wroszynski. That man once said to a cast working for him, when asked what method of acting he subscribed to, "we will use whatever method works." That man has taught me more about theatre than anyone ever has.

You see besides being an actor, I am also a punk and part-time rude-boy in the respect that I am into punk music and ska and that I rebel against most things people tell me about the rules. And when it comes to rules of theatre I only adhere to a few. I know a lot of people lately who have quoted others on what is important in the theatre and I have heard a number of stories of people doing acting exercises that were just so important that you wouldn't believe the performance it pulled out of them.

You are fucking stupid.

Here is what is important:
Show up ready to work
Do the job while you are there.
Know your place
Have fun
Don't be afraid to talk yell scream what you think
Go the fuck home and have a life

A paltry list, I know, but that is all there is. Anyone tells you different and they are lying to you. If someone tells you that warm-ups are absolutely necessary to participate in, tell that festering tit boil to go suck a mangy infected cock. If anyone tells you an exercise is absolutely important to pulling a character out of you for a marvelous performance remember that is not their place to determine. All of it is just an excuse to revel in the art or craft of acting, and theory like that makes you into one of those mindless elitist cockholes that make people hate theatre and actors in the first place. You sound like a douchebag. If you listen to music, or warm-up, or create a power animal like some hippie fuckwad who wants to connect a character with nature, that is fine but don't think for a moment that anyone else gives two flying cunts. 

Also I have had people as of late try to tell me that some parts of the theatre are more important than others? If you think one part is more imortant or is "the most important" you are going to see your entire project collapse before your eyes. So don't waste your time on importance.You are there to WORK! For whatever reason that might be. If it gives you an adrenaline rush. If it caters to getting you attention you do or don't get in life. If you just love the whole process and want to be a part of it all. If you love the dissection of character and love the journey you get to take in discovery, whatever reason you have you are there to work. Not to give a shit how many audience members are there. Not to play fucking games. Not to feel superior to other people. You are there to work. 

If you got into theatre for the money, then someone fucking lied to you and you were dumb enough to believe it.

I guess what I am saying is what Henryk said. Do what works, but I would add that we should realize that not all actors work the same. They don't all fit a pattern. At best your performance may have all the pieces fit together but the puzzle wont have any edge pieces. It won't be easy, the edges will be rough, some parts of the picture might be missing and it certainly won't be pretty in spots. But the work got done. Then you can go the fuck home and have a life. And don't think for a second that it matters in the grand scheme of things. 

Doug Kerr once said to a cast that I was in to, "not let our heads get to big by doing this show, after all there are people in china who don't even fucking know that you or this show exists."

And in the end the people you love, who truly shape your world will be gone and no one will remember them or anything they said. So don't think for a second that this experience is for anyone but yourself. If you keep trying to make it for other people you might miss the target. If you make it for you, others might get something out of it and feel like they saw a part of you that is worth seeing, and you are guaranteed some happiness for yourself(have fun).

With deep and abiding affection,
Gabriel

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