I decided today that I will try out for a local Shakespeare festival. The decision is not a New Year’s resolution of any kind; I chanced upon the festival’s web site last night and decided to give it a shot. I haven’t acted in some years, but I’ve wanted to get back into it.
I’ve always been something of a jack of all trades, ace at none, meaning that I’ve had a modest talent for a number of things -- music, drawing, writing and acting -- but have not focused on one area to master it. Of my talents, I was best at acting. (My BA is in Theatre Arts.) I just did not have the love for it to pursue acting as a career. Spending long days in front of a camera doing dog food commercials sounded boring to me. As competitive as acting is, if you can live with doing something else, then you probably should do something else. I really wanted to write plays.
I started writing with much less natural talent for it than for acting. For years I really sucked. I didn’t own a typewriter, but wrote these terrible plays in all capital letters in a three-ring notebook. (I wrote in caps because I was a huge comic book fan as a kid.) I failed and failed and failed, but was too stupid to realize I was a failure. Besides, I had fun failing. There is nothing in life as fulfilling as figuring out a plot. Thinking up a climax is almost as good as, well, another kind of climax.
I kept plugging away and achieved mediocrity. Lately I would say my writing is getting better. It’s professional, but not yet great. I’ve sold comedy bits to radio morning shows. I’ve had interest from a producer in a screenplay, but have yet to sell one. I have an agent of dubious worth. I’m not giving up. I think I’m on the verge of breaking through and writing something people will actually want to pay money for.
Still, acting calls me. The main reason I want to get back on the stage is that now, after all these years, I understand those Stanislavskian methods my teachers tried to get through my thick skull when I was a lad. I read lines I acted 25 years ago and find values I completely missed at the time. Back then I laid on a shallow, preconceived idea of how a character should be, instead of letting the character arise naturally from the inside. My acting had a generalized quality then. I can do better now. I want to take it to a new level. (Is the spiral theory of knowledge applicable here?)
The auditions are in mid-February. Whether I get cast or not, you can rest assured that I will deliver a full report of my experience on this blog. I’ll find something interesting to say. What this means for the blog in the long run is uncertain. I love having a place to blow off steam about the crisis of the day. Between my job and rehearsals (if I get cast) I might not have much time to blog.
I might as well make this a New Year’s resolution. This year I will return to an old challenge that I have not faced in many years, a challenge that is so old it is new.