• Observation

    There are different schools of thought on actor training.  One advocates complete immersion into a character, another for finding what already in your being relates to the character you are playing, and so on and so on.

    I tend to follow a hybrid approach, which has developed over the last 3+ decades of performing.  When I started, I used what I now refer to the Jack Nicholson school of acting.  I played myself playing the character.  In the end, what you saw on stage or screen was a variation of the actor creating the character.  In the Renaissance Faire world, it worked.

    As I moved to the stage, I realized that this would no longer work.  So, I learned to watch people.  At first, I just watched how people walked, and generally moved their bodies.  Then, I learned to understand how various base instincts and motivations affected movement.

    Now, I sit and watch people.  A lot of actors, especially character actors, do.  I watch the springy step of youth and the unsure step of both extreme youth and age.  I watch whether a person leads with their head, their chest, their crotch...  Do they slouch, stand ramrod straight, hunch their shoulders?  Do they smile, frown, or keep a neutral face?

    Mixing all that with a study of the character's motivations, it is my hope that now I can create deep characters that take the material to new levels.

  • Daily life

    I have been helping a friend work on his cat cafe so he can finally get it open.  I am not getting paid, well, not traditionally paid.  I will have unlimited cat time when he finally opens.  I consider this payment enough.

    Some would say that I will be cheating on my parrots, but I did have cats before I had them.  Besides, sometimes you just need to belly scritch a creature that purrs.  So, I will work on stuff at the cafe so this will happen.

    Tomorrow, I will audition for Universal again.  I don't know why I submitted, but I still feel like I have something to finish there.  I am currently playing with two different monologues.  They work for different shows in the park.  I suppose I need to decide which one I want more.

    Now, I need sleep.

  • A writer... well... writes.

    Today is one of those days where I feel like I am writing just to keep the blog going.  It is probably true.  A writer writes.  Not everything is a gem.

    Sometimes, you just need to clear the crap out of your head.  Stream of conciousness writing can do that.  So, that is what I do when I need clarity.

    I am making big changes to my life right now, so a lot of crap is bubbling to the surface.  It is a normal part of the process.  And to be sure, it is a process.

    You don't just change.  You decide to change and then, hopefully, you develop a plan for that change.  Your brain will fight you the entire way.  Why?  The brain is a lazy jerk.

    Change is hard.  It is much easier for the brain to remain on a steady, unchanging, course.  That, however, is just not conducive to living a good life.  We talk about fighting against inertia.  The brain is what creates that inertia.  So, we must fight against the consistency of our lives.

    Right now, I am living in fear.  But, the fear is the uncharted change I am creating within myself.  I can live with that fear as I am working hard to conquer the emotion to move forward.

    Right now, this makes sense to me.  Tomorrow, it may not.  I won't delete the post.  I feel like I have moved some of the crap out of my head right now.

  • I am trying to define who I want to be as an actor

    Basically, I am trying to fit myself to the image of the characters I would like to play.  A lot of this involves the shape, and fitness, of my body.

    I have always been able to play the "heavy."  Playing the menacing character has always been my type, even when I was at my heaviest.  I have been told I have an angry face.

    However, to play the menacing guy honestly, in this day and age, I need to be able to get back my ability to stage fight.  I need to be able to tumble and take the falls.  That requires a level of fitness that I have let slip by.

    I have lived in the gym.  It makes me strong.  It does not make me fit.  I contemplated Crossfit, but I have heard too many horror stories about injuries due the to culture of crossfit.  My own brother suffered such an injury during his crossfit phase.  If I am honest with myself, that takes a backseat to the fact that I am not, nor have I ever been, a joiner.  Crossfit is a culture of group.  I am a loner.

    So, I thought back to the time in my life when I was the most fit.  The Army.  The Army does not send you to the gym.  They do calisthenics.  Calisthenic exercises today have expanded beyond what the Army taught me.

    I spent the last month on multiple fitness challenges.  I feel fantastic.  Now, I will slip into a regular routine.  I may not gain the size I once had, but at 53, I think it is time to be nicer to my joints.  Muscle is still added weight.

    Just as I have recently left certain performing gigs that no longer align with my focus, I am shaping the physical part of my instrument to better align to my goals as a performer.

    It is a strong reminder that we never stop learning and training.

  • What defines a working actor?

    I have, for the last 15 years, made my living solely from performing.  For that reason, I have defined myself as a working actor.  The majority of that work has been in theme parks and dinner theaters in Orlando, FL.

    There came a time, however, when I grew tired of this type of corporate performing.  Yes, I was an actor, but I was equally a mimic.  For every role in this town, there are several performers who share the character.  In order to maintain a standard of performance, some creativity is stripped from the individual performers to maintain a level of uniformity.

    I took a job outside of entertainment here in Orlando.  I still walk the boards, which really only pays a stipend, but allows for the level of creativity that I now need in my performances.  I am beginning to create my own content again.

    As my previous post stated, I have a big project coming out.  I have several more irons in the fire.  My biggest challenge has been to find partners with whom I can work.  Actors come to this town to train in those theme parks and dinner theaters.  Some so they can move on to cities like New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Toronto.  Some so they can build a larger performing life here in Orlando.  As such, many of them don't want to step away from those gigs to work on outside projects.

    I understand.  I really do.

    I am not paying my bills through performance.  Am I still a working actor?

    Yes, I think I am.  I am a working actor because I am still creating performances.  No, I am not getting paid for the majority of them anymore, but at this point in my career, that is just to allow the next phase of my performing life to take shape.