Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Writing Exercise #2

I know a lot of introverted actors. It seems almost contradictory to outsiders--this idea that theatrical people would be introverted--but it's very often true.

I am often inspired by and delighted by the people I work with in the theatre, but I perform for the work, not for the people. Back stage, I am often found quiet and unsocial. I am focused on arranging costumes, props, and preparing myself for the show. When I go out onto the stage, I am bold, gregarious, and fully committed to a connection with the other actors and with the crowd. When I leave, I do my part to get things gathered and cleaned, and then I duck out.

Again, I don't hate people, but I do theatre because I love the work of the theatre. Perhaps it's the way the chaos is organized on the stage. There's a significance in my interactions and a magic in the focused connections.

The same people I shy away from at the show become lifelong friends to me outside of the work, more often than not. Theatre is a great way to discover the qualities of a person. Are they reliable? Do they listen? Can they focus on a problem? Are they a help or a hindrance?

Actors are playing themselves on the stage, just different versions of themselves. The faster an actor recognizes that, the faster they find truth in their portrayals and honesty in their own personal life. The best actors are able to float from beautiful to disgusting without flinching and find all the qualities in between, both on the stage and off the stage. They laugh loudly, tell horrible jokes, say all the wrong things, generally have horrible hygiene, and then roll out of bed and become gorgeous and articulate within a moment's notice.

And they are at peace with that because experience tells us that the best stories require imperfect characters. We float through life, comfortable with our imperfections because that's how we ensure that our story will be more interesting than the next. And the only thing an actor really can't stand is boredom.  On or off the stage.

Perhaps there's nothing more boring than talking just for the sake of talking.

At least that's the way it seems to be in theatre. And in real life for that matter.

I have to interject one thing about extroverts. I have no problem with them at all. They find human interaction energizing and inspiring. They are generally the types to come to the theatre to indulge the thoughtful whims of their introverted counterparts. My extroverted friends are my most supportive allies and I wish I was more like them as I grow to understand the important things in life.

 On a side note, I don't know that most people fall neatly into one category or another. But the words introvert and extrovert are convenient labels that help me to express myself.

Back to the boring talking stuff. I'm not bored talking to people. I'm bored when a person talks to me, but manages to say nothing during the conversation. Talking just to talk. Despite my general introversion, I feel energized when I participate in a conversation with a friend where ideas are exchanged and developed. I feel inspired when I hear their struggles and their hopes. I am awoken when the people I am talking with are open and honest.

And the best actors are always open and honest. Especially on the stage.

This has been Writing Exercise #2.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Writing Exercise #1

I have decided that I need to keep writing. So every day, I am going to write. I want to avoid keeping an online journal though. This is going to just be an every day effort to write. I hope you enjoy it. If you don't, that's all right too.

Writing Exercise #1 August 16, 2016

Sitting in a moving vehicle is this strange combination of stillness and speed. Stillness in speed. My little boy tries to get comfortable in his booster seat and sits quietly, as the world outside zooms by. My feet don’t need to touch the pedals as there’s no need for a brake on this long stretch of Interestate 80, and the cruise control is set to 83 miles per hour. I hold the steering wheel steady as we zoom forward along the highway. If I don’t hold the car steady, the speed will break us open.

The planet hurtles itself through space at the alarming speed of 1,000 miles per hour. And yet, I am completely sedentary in my leather chair.

Summers fly by. Days creep along.

Stillness in speed.

What would happen if I explored things differently?

 Do I want speed in my stillness? Do I want to be carried away with thoughts of hurtling forward through time and space? Do I want to feel the earth careening round and round and forward through space?

Or how would it feel if I forgot about speed and imagined that the world was as still as I am?

I am sitting in this chair. Typing words, one at a time. And nothing ever changes. Nothing ever happens. I hear the old air conditioner chugging along. I feel my chapped lips. I peer through dirty glasses. I feel a heaviness in my body and in my spirit. I look over at my water bottle and see … Never mind. The phone keeps ringing. This effort at ignoring speed and living in stillness is destroyed by the joys of customer service.

But I realize something. I believe that this balance between stillness and speed is an important one. If I am caught up in speed, I am anxious and carried away. If I am lost in the stillness, I am hopeless and depressed.

I guess I could compare it to living one day at a time, while having faith that I am a part of a grand celestial plan.

Sometimes, we live only for the celestial and forget about the tertiary daily efforts. Sometimes, we poison ourselves through one toxic choice after another, hardly recognizing how it might throw us off course.

These are my thoughts for today. This has been writing exercise #1.