Since returning to New York from building and performing Prohibitive Standards, the only theatre I've participated in has been--in one regard or another--through NYU's First Look program. First Look is the name of the acting company (of about 200 actors) NYU's graduate playwriting class has compiled through recommendation to work with on staged readings and in-class development. I was recommended to the program about three years ago by Faith Catlin, auditioned, and have been enjoying the experience ever since. Shortly before I left Pennsylvania I agreed to participate in Friend Avi's in-class reading, which reminded a director I had worked with previously (Janice Goldberg) of me. She asked me to audition for a staged reading, which I did and thereupon joined, and during that rehearsal process she asked me to audition for a performance of the ten-minute play of another student. All this week I have rehearsals for that play, which goes up with others for four nights next week. First Look can be a little bit like a microcosm of that strange, informal system of networking that goes on in the theatre world of New York. When you're everywhere, you're everywhere; when you're not . . . best of luck, pal.
Last week, once I had successfully cooked the turkey for my visiting family (What's that thumping between my shoulder blades? Oh, it seems to be my own palm.), I relaxed into my sister's papasan and promptly dropped into The Dreaming. Since then I've been having regular anxiety (see 11/2/07 for shock and awe) about identity and emotional sensitivity. Most of the time I find it interesting that I have so much trouble remembering my dreams upon waking. I find it frustrating as hell when something clearly very important occurred to me in a dream, and there's little hope outside of hypnosis for my recalling it. So this is the general state in which I began rehearsals in earnest for my latest First Look endeavor.
My fellow actors are named Matt and Foss (forgive me, guys, for the lack of last names--this will be over so quickly I guess contact sheets are not a priority), and both are very professional, sensitive actors. (Incidentally, also a great looking couple, which is great for the piece.) I'm having a good time working with them. Matt hails from UNC-CH, and is doing a sort of study-abroad thing in New York. He's a highly energetic, physical, receptive actor, who gets comedy seemingly naturally. He understands how staged jokes work almost to a fault, to the extent that in rehearsal he can miss some moments of truth or listening for the sake of timing and the beauty of a well-executed gag. This last not-necessarily-a-fault may be something of a projection. To be brief, he reminds me of me.
When I was his age.
I suppose knowing oneself at the present moment of one's life, really understanding yourself as an individual in the here and now, is a challenging prospect for anyone. Consider it. I would bet you find it a lot easier to explain yourself in retrospect--even over a matter of a few days--than you would at this very moment. Perhaps this is a more significant question for an actor than someone who doesn't spend time trying to occupy others' skins. Perhaps not. I do know that it's a lot more comfortable not to ask this sort of question of oneself, but I consider that dangerous. Balance in all things, of course--over-analyzation is as detrimental to mental health as anything--but questions are good, and assumptions about oneself are particularly powerful. So I'm wondering a lot lately: Just who in the hell do I think I am? And how is he different from the am I actually . . . am?
Last week, amidst tech rehearsals for the last First Look staged reading I performed in, I ran into Friend Brie (Briana Sefarian, nee Trautman-Maier), whom I had not seen in almost a year. It had been an eventful year. One 0f the things Brie did in that time was switch her focus from acting to producing. Thankfully she's still acting when called to it, because she's a joy on stage. We discussed life changes at some length, and she helped me clarify some of the feelings I have been having lately concerning a need to take greater control over my work. Is it that she could particularly help me because we were coming from different places after so long, or different times? They may be the same thing. All I know is that, be it coincidence or my own need, she seemed to understand my present better than I do. (My "currency," if you will [And, frankly, even if you won't.].)
So I continue to enjoy rehearsals, and search for the next opportunity to discover something with the most open mind possible. It's funny (ha ha), but I started the Aviary with a lot of personal objectives aside from the declared mission statement. In the general nature of this here entry, and, I suppose, the general nature of yours truly, I was more aware at the time of writing of some of these goals than others. One that occurred to me very clearly, however, a few days after I started my frumious 'blogination, was that the Aviary would stand as a good account of at least a year's worth of the part of my life spent pursuing acting as both career and art form. As I close on the year's anniversary of launching this 'blog, I find myself facing a lot of the same questions I had a year ago, but a lot more information recorded for consideration. So I got that going for me. Which is nice.
But more on that later. There's no question I love the pursuit on some level, the effort at understanding. I'm like the Little Engine over here. I think I am; I think I am; I think I am . . .