Part of my changes in career choices have been motivated by my own cowardice.
It takes a certain kind of bravery to be an actor. An ability to roll with the punches, and to punch back when you need to. I can do the second, but the first has been very difficult.
I did get valuable advice from Lawrence Bayne at a Q&A session he held down at Harbourfront. He said most people in this industry have an ego of latex, but you need to have one of concrete. Wise words.
Or 1/4 full.
I have said before that if your current artistic project isn’t making you both scared and excited, then you need to step up the level of the projects you’re involved in. Or choose more interesting projects. Or both.
Here I sit at the end of a successful theatre production, community, yeah, but still valuable. Now my plate is 1/4 full. Or 3/4 empty.
The point is, if you want to get your own arts world cooking, you really have to go out, hunt down your kill, bring it back to more than life, and present it to your paying guests. Who will hopefully like it and pay you for your efforts. So you can go out and do it all over again.
Fast food projects might be sweet in the mouth but bitter in the belly. Having too many chefs (gov’t grants, multiple producers) in the kitchen can really spoil the broth. Simple, honest presentation of your healthy ingredients…really, what more do you need to do?
Simple and honest is very scary to do. But the most rewarding. They give the best excited/scared ratios in the world.
Sometimes food gets in the way, so I wolf it down as quickly as possible, to enjoy life. Then come the hiccups.
Sometimes food is a pleasure as well as sustenance, and I take it in moderately and gratefully.
Time to move to the second behaviour for all my meals.
So I have a job. It pays the bills, and it’s not unpleasant.
Then I have theatre. It electrifies me and feeds my soul. But it’s hard to imagine it paying the bills.
- Reduce my bills
- Trust in the universe that my bills will still be paid
Well, that’s not the worst set of options I’ve seen. Except for that ?? part.
I was up until 4 earlier this week.
Passion had seized me, the desire to live had filled me, energy coursed through my frame.
I was actually doing something that involved me putting my heart and balls on the line, as opposed to going through life on cruise control.
Have you ever had that feeling? It’s nice, isn’t it? Not for every waking moment, but when it hits at the right time, it’s magic.
My new approach to creativity is going to be the Lynda Barry “Is it good? Does it suck?” approach.
Rather than trying to answer those two questions every time I start a new creative project, I will just start doing it without trying to answer them.
I tried to find a link to the comic, but no luck. So if you want to read the brilliance of the whole thing yourself, you’re going to have to find a copy of “Best of Comics 2006″ in the remainder bin at your local Book City.
We take Labour Day for granted.
I’m only saying this because I’m in one of my left-leaning moods, but honestly, we treat it as a last day of summer partying.
When you look back on it, workers had to fight to get it recognized as a holiday. They were tired of 58 hour work weeks and protested against it. Now usually “union” is a bad word, but back in the day, it was the only way for labour to make itself heard.
There is an actor’s union in most major nations, for both stage and screen actors. And these unions grew out of the same needs, to get some worker rights from the employers (producers/studios).
Like any human effort, unions range in their ratio of serving a need to being self-serving. And this has led to all of them getting a bad rap recently.
But ask yourself, where would the majority of us be today without them? I, for one, am grateful to the concept of the union, glad it got started, and want to see any real flaws in the system fixed, rather than dropping the union entirely. Yes, I am including stage/film actors unions in this wish too.
Happy Labour Day! It lets a schlub like me type on a phone to a blog which I’m sure is read by someone! And if that isn’t proof we’re now a kinder society, I don’t know what is.
We’re all familiar with the stereotype of the artist as a child. Drinking too much, profligate sex, drug abuse, stints in rehab…I think you get the idea. (I wonder how the ancient Greek actors behaved? It must have involved olive oil somehow.)
This inner turbulence, this dissatisfaction with something, this always breaking things and the ups and downs of the moods. Is it really necessary?
No. There are many fine examples of sane actors with distinguished careers. Paul Newman springs to mind. But something about the flame-outs, the ones who go nuts, go to rehab, get clean and then go back into rehab…well, we’re human and they fascinate us, so they get lots of media coverage and colour our views of what an artist is.
What I think is the cause of this chaos is the restlesness Martha Graham talks about:
• There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.
This need to express yourself is what drives every artist. My belief is that this self-expression gets corrupted when you see creative people behaving really badly. They think they have some special licence to do their thing with anyone, anytime.
A lot like a spoiled child. But who wants to work with a spoiled child? A Picasso can sort of get away with it because of a level of genius most people never attain. But even if you have that level of genius, why not save it for an audience and use all that energy in practising your craft between gigs?
My laptop is an ancient Celeron beast. It works fine for what I need it for, especially after I installed Linux Mint, but it is heavy.
Netbooks are really pretty, but they aren’t being given away for free.
So I’m back to what I used to do, if I don’t want to schlep around a backpack full of laptop, I use a paper pad and a pen. Simple. Light. And the writing process is easier because it’s really satisfying to draw lines through stuff I don’t like, make little doodles, and so on.
Then when I transcribe to computer, I’m rewriting some bits at the same time. Really, I was a lot more intelligent when I wasn’t a corporate resource.
And so ends the G20 in Toronto, and a spectacle worthy of the histories of Shakespeare. Hidden agendas from leaders, a set of guards who act oddly, traitors to the order who protest but are drowned out by violent interlopers…well, Shakespeare could write it better. But what a drama!