The great thing about animals is that they are honest, simple and efficient. Every morning when I take Beau, our almost-twelve-year-old Golden Doodle, out for a walk he stands in front of the door. When I open the door he moves out of the way just enough so the door doesn’t touch him. This isn’t a case of laziness; God knows and thank God for it, when we get to the park he still plays like a puppy. What he is, is efficient. He knows just how far he has to move and that’s what he does.
This is an important lesson for those of us in the acting profession. Too often when we’re asked to play a character we do so much more then we have do to. Usually it comes from a good place — we’ve been hired to tell a story and we want to make sure the audience “gets” what’s going on with our character. But the problem is we often end up trying to influence the wrong group of people. The only people we should be concerned about influencing are the other actors we’re working with. Instead of worrying about the viewing audience we need to focus on having honest and truthful connections with the players we have banded together with to tell our particular story.
The reason what Beau does is so honest is because he doesn’t have any agenda beyond the immediate. He lives in the moment and isn’t overly concerned with what other people think. As actors we can’t be that cavalier, we have stories we have to honor and the best way to do that is to make sure we stay connected to the present. When I am breaking down a script and preforming it I don’t ask myself, “What would Beau do,” but I constantly ask myself “Am I being honest, simple and efficient?” And when I am, those are the times I feel the most connected to my art.
Three weeks ago Ross Meyerson, one of New York’s most prolific and respected casting directors (Nurse Jackie, The Affair, The Following, The Americans, Black Box, Rescue Me – just to name a few) was the guest in our FREE Industry Workshop series. He led a very spirited hour and half Q & A session. Many of the people who attended said they felt it was the best workshop we have had so far.
The next FREE Industry Workshop will be on the 9th of February and the casting director Cindi Rush will be out guest. In New York she’s cast: Promising, Ruthless, Disenchanted, Drop Dead Perfect, Under My Skin, Silence!, Rooms, Jacques Brel, Urinetown, The Thing About Men, Home Street Home. Regional Theaters include: Triad Stage, Hudson Stage, Penguin Rep, Pittsburgh Public, Charleston Stage Co. Film: The Grief of Others (SXSW/Cannes), Runoff (L.A Film Fest), Policy of Truth (SOHO Film Fest), The Woman (Sundance), Funeral Kings (SXSW) Ghoul, Theresa is a Mother, Jugface (Slamdance), In The Family (Independent Spirit). Cindi has been a consultant for NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (1999-Present).
Hope to see you there.