Thursday, June 24, 2010

One of those days...

Last night was great.

Had my first read/rehearsal for Protected with Kate B. and Cory K. Really, really happy with how far we got. The show is blocked, and both Kate and Cory are already well on their way to finding their way through it. I've got pretty much all the props secured, and we're looking good.




Not so much.

I dunno, I've been hit with another attack of irrelevancy, I guess. Today I've been playing and replaying a lot of the recent acting work I've done. Thinking about how little I've actually accomplished in the past couple of years.

I should be doing more film work, student films, independent shorts, whatever. I should be on my agent's ass to get me more auditions. I should be...I dunno...DOING SOMETHING.

Which, on one level, is absolutely silly. I'm, literally, not at home any night this week. In fact, looks like I don't have a single night off next week, either. Work call at Stage Left on Saturday....Leapfest Reading on Saturday night; The Meaning of Lunch, it's great, please come. Looks like I just got an offer for a private reading on Sunday, too.

So, yeah. Busy. I'm happy to have work, great work, in the case of Lunch, to have people who want me to work with them. It's always an honor when I'm asked to do things.

But...Why does it seem it's always at the same level? I suppose it's the self-reflective conversation 99.99% of actors have to have, the "you know you won't ever make a living doing this" conversation. It's just the facts. Most of us will never make enough to live on.

I guess I'm just stuck in a rut. If I can't make a living, I want work that pulls me in different directions. I want something exciting, something that really is a challenge. I've got things lined up, they're definitely good shows, good scripts, but they're not really outside my "comfort zone" as far as performance goes. Outside of that, the opportunities feel slim. There's very little that looks good or interesting out there to audition for, that I can actually do, schedule-wise. Not to mention could I even get cast?

Feels very much, to me, that theatre companies are "circling the wagons" right now. Looking only to those actors in their ensembles, or that they personally know, for casting. Nothing wrong with that. I understand the reasoning. You trust these people, they're committed to you, and will work hard.

Still, I options. It reminds be a lot of being in College.

In College, I was not considered a "go to" guy for anything. In fact, I'd have to guess that most of our faculty and students felt I was pretty untalented, or, at least, highly unfocused. (I'd probably agree, looking back) I was "the big guy," and I was competent enough to play, oh, the Boatswain in The Tempest, or the Innkeeper in Knight of the Burning Pestle.

In the years I spent at Kearney, I only once felt challenged by a role. That was Valere in Tartuffe, and frankly my director, Jeff Green (again), had to pound me into submission to get it right. Long story, but I was a hardheaded, Method, "I gotta FEEL it" actor. It isn't that kind of show. The birth pains were awful, but, in the end, I knew I'd done something good, the performance was something I could be proud of.

Hell, Valere's only in two scenes, probably 15 minutes total. Not like I was carrying the show, or anything, but, man...there was so much to play in the scene with Mariane. Then...back to the chorus. I was really, really depressed a lot during College, for this exact reason. I could do shows, but I was never asked to push myself, to try something I could really fail at.

Yeah, yeah, I know..."no small parts, just small actors." I get that, I do. I've never, and will never, turn down a role because it's too small. However, when you're playing the Boatswain, you're there to do one thing...give that stupid expositional monologue in the last act. I tend to start all my characters based on what function they serve in the story, but...sometimes that's all there is, y'know?

Hell, I had to leave the College and go do shows at the "dreaded" Kearney Community Theatre in order to finally do something that I felt lifted me a bit. A Few Good Men, playing Lt. Kendrick. I was vying for Lt. Kaffee, and, still, to this day, felt I read the best of anyone that night.

I didn't get it...Ahh, theatre politics. Never changes, no matter how high you get up that ladder.

Anyway, when I stepped out of the Theatre Program, and all the reputation, or lack thereof, I had there, I could actually fly. A Few Good Men was, ultimately, a fantastic experience. Sure, every, single time I looked at that pretty-boy they cast as Kaffee, I got angry, but Kendrick hated Kaffee, so I could use it. (I really don't remember that actor's name at all, he was an overall pleasant guy, but he had what I wanted. I was pissed.)

Anyway...the point of the matter is I spent a lot of years feeling inferior. Feeling like I could only do one thing, and it was a functional sort of thing, rather than something that could come from deeper inside. Even Kendrick was still mainly a thug, but I had room to play different things and make choices. It took me a long, long time to get over that, and every time I get offered a role that feels a lot like things I've done before, I slip a little further back.

I know it's silly, I really do. The Meaning of Lunch is very different from things I've played recently, and Todd is a role that very much speaks to me. I had a tremendous run of luck, and performances I felt very good about, a couple of years ago. I'm 99% sure no one at UNK theatre would've ever thought I would play McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and successfully, to boot. I think about compliments Mike Nussbaum gave me on the set of Dashiell Hamlet, which I treasure, and I'm reminded that I can be good at this stuff.

Still, at the end of the day, I want to play characters that I connect to. The day I play a role and I can't feel it, even the tiniest bit, is the day I need to retire.

A bit of a ramble today, I know. Sorry about that.

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