"An unexamined life is not worth living." - Plato quoting Socrates
A friend of mine challenged yesterday this notion that I should spend the next 30 days approaching my own life in the same way I approach crafting a character as an actor. 'Do you want to be yourself' he asked, 'or a carefully crafted character?' Great question.
The short answer is 'what's the difference?' Much of the answer depends on the personal perspective on what life is, what life's supposed to be. Who I'm supposed to be. I don't know exactly what drives me to take the little free time I have to do this, but I do know that serious study of the performing arts, namely dance and acting, has shown me much that I feel is lacking in the experience of those foreign to the arts. So maybe it's as simple as... I want to share.
I've been taught that ACTING = DOING. So the verbosity of self-expression will quickly fade. The loquaciousness of over-analysis will bow in the face of visceral exploration. Because, for an actor, building a character is a process of discovery, whereas in our everyday lives the formation of our own character is too often a process of conditioning or, worse, of manipulation. I begin.
There's no plan. No structure, save that of an acting process I've learned at Esper Studio in New York. But that's OK because process creates structure, not the other way around. I don't have an extensive acting resume. I've spent much of my post-Esper time writing screenplays, directing a short, and teaching/coaching actors. All I know is that 'I'VE JUST CAST MYSELF IN THE ROLE OF... (wait for it Austin Powers) MYSELF!
STEP 1. Get an Acting Coach. It's a little know fact outside of the industry that many film and TV productions have acting coaches and/or dialect coaches on staff to work with the cast while filming. This luxury is also sought by actors who are prepping for auditions, or to attend casting director workshops, or who want to maintain their acting 'chops' sharp for that elusive legit audition that runs on the same schedule as most comets. Three things will be important for me in choosing a coach for such a personal role.
First, looking at my own being as a fictional character (all the world's a stage, he said) is scary to me. In fact, most actors are terrified of taking on the responsibility of 'giving birth' to a human being that wheretofore existed only as words on a page, or solely as an idea. Excited! ... but terrified :)
Second, this person has to balance the task of asking the appropriate and tough questions that will challenge my assumptions, my tendency to deflect, to rationalize, to dilute, to misappropriate, to label shallowly - you get the picture - with the task of keeping me taking action towards the objectives I want to reach in the 'scene.' This scene is going to last a month. That's a long scene. So...
Third, this coach needs to be willing to be on speed-dial 24/7. I will need to ask questions. Clarify doubts. Have my hand held. My tears dried. My breakthroughs affirmed. Because I am heading into something of which I have yet to know anything about. Into a place that hasn't been charted yet, no matter how much I may think I've learned about it from books, from experts, from history. And that place is... tomorrow. And the day after, and the day after that. Scary shit. Or exciting shit. Who decides? My coach. Who can do all this for me. My coach. Who's the most valuable coach I can have in my life? My MIND.