Sunday, January 01, 2006

Acting and Writing

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.


Jennifer Snow said...

Fantastic! I'm always telling my friends that if they loved whatever art thing they used to do (play French horn, ice skate, paint) they would be doing themselves a favor to get back into it in any capacity.

Good for you!

And your writing does NOT suck.

Myrhaf said...

Thanks for the encouragement. Of course, blog writing is easier than fiction writing.

Jennifer Snow said...

Hah. Says you.