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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"All I want to do is act, but.....You need to write too!"

In The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, he claims that an artist's true enemy is RESISTANCE.  It shows up in many forms: addiction, depression, fundamentalism, even as our closest friends or significant other.  

RESISTANCE becomes extremely powerful when we, as artists, choose to do something that is really meaningful to us.  Such actions include: writing our first play, taking an acting class, auditioning for a role that scares us, picking up the phone and calling that manager or producer that we've been wanting to work with, starting a charity to help underprivileged youth, or starting up the piano again after years of watching it collect dust.

RESISTANCE will never kick in when we decide to apply for a job at a bank, work as a tele-marketer, advertise the hottest strip club with a sandwich board, or choose to work handing out free food samples (at a very trendy/popular grocery store chain) to stupid adults that feel they are entitled to their pill cup sized, serving of mashed potatoes and free coffee and "How dare the food and coffee not be ready" when they mug up to the plexi-glass germ guard that somehow screams "Please stick your feces covered hands underneath and feel free to grab what you need, because I'm only standing here in a cholo hairnet, apron, Hawaiian shirt and rubber gloves to look cool." Not to mention the assaulting questions like: "What are you serving?" and "Mmmmm...What's for dinner?"  You hear them all freaking day long.  It's written in big ass letters across the plexi-glass, but they're too busy sticking their caca hands underneath it to notice.  Stoo-pee-Dos!


The Fitzgerald Within
You're used to these little rants by now.  Hehehe!  Five years ago, I was fortunate enough to go through LAByrinth Theater Company's, Master Class Intensive.  It was a five week workshop where actors participated in many disciplines of theater production.  We learned about producing, movement, dance, fight choreography, production design, improvisation, storytelling, acting (of course), and writing.  One of our writing teachers was multi-award winning, Tony nominated, playwright, Stephen Adly Guirgis("The MotherF#@!er With the Hat").  It was such an awesome experience.  Here was a guy that was writing roles that I could actually be cast in.  Believe me, I let him know how much his worked inspired me on many (somewhat drunken) occasions.  I'm glad he's still my Facebook friend.

Mr. Guirgis started out his career as an actor.  In fact, I watched him perform in LAByrinth's production of "Guinea Pig Solo" by Brett C. Leonard (also one of our writing teachers for the Master Class).  Obviously, Mr. Guirgis' body of work speaks for itself.  The guy can write and act.  He's really good.  When he talked about writing vs. acting, he said something that really just sunk in a few months ago.  "With writing, you have more control."  I completely understood what he was saying, but RESISTANCE had such a hold on me, that I chose not to write anything, until very recently.

"But, I'm an actor..."
As an actor/writer, you can develop and create material to perform in.  There are endless possibilities.  You don't have to rely on the decisions of a producer to offer you the part, or worry about your phone not wringing, etc.  You are in complete creative control.  The Muse is talking to "you" and "you" alone. This sounds awesome and empowering. Right?

Well, fear of sucking kicked in. Even though, deep down, I knew that I had a talent for writing.  However, I was an ACTOR!  My goal was to be on stage or on the screen.  I didn't want to be a writer who sometimes acted.  At that time, the actors I knew that were writing, had chose to write, because their acting careers didn't take off the way they had hoped.  We were tending bar and waiting tables side by side.  They were approaching forty. Chingada! I'm having an affective memory moment right now, because my heart is racing remembering the faces of those actors, transitioning into writers, who are no longer in the game.

I allowed RESISTANCE to keep his hold on me.  Over the years, I became more depressed, drank too much, had no money, and had very little acting opportunities.

All right!  All right!  I'll write!
Last year, I was in a new play by Josefina Lopez ("Real Women Have Curves").  When my run was over, I decided to stay involved with her theater, CASA 0101, and take a writing class.  The wheels started turning again.  All of a sudden, all these great ideas started sprouting.  As I write, I've had to narrow them down to two projects that I'm developing that will allow me the opportunity to act and write.  Honestly, I'm so f'n happy!

I feel like I'm actually accomplishing something, and my confidence as an actor has skyrocketed.  It turns out that life really is the best acting teacher.  Which leads me to the mocoso (snotty) actors that inspire this blog.

A lot of young actors today come out of these Academies and Conservatories with dreams of being the next star, which is awesome.  Can't knock the hustle baby!  I've never attended one of these schools, so I can't speak from experience.  My opinions are based on the conversations I had with graduates of these schools.  They are taught many facets of acting and theater production (costuming, set design/construction, sword fighting, dance, voice).  I've never heard one of them talk about a writing class that was part of their curriculum. 

I guess being a waiter is a good transition from an academy, because you end up "waiting" for that phone to buzz with a text or email about your next audition.   

I'm not getting many auditions, so what do I do?
I've heard from a few casting directors that they receive anywhere from 1000-2000 submissions for one line roles.  The interns weed out your picture without a thought.  BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!  Then they pass along their selections to the associate, who will pass along their selections to the actual casting director.  

Nothing you can do about that. You could bitch about your representation, but then you might get some Karmic backlash for that.  After all, we're never wrong.  Right?  There's nothing we can do about it.  Shit!  We're only in charge of our own destiny.  So, worry about the phone not ringing or use those creative muscles to actually create something.

It's crazy, because the internet is like this 1800's Gold Rush for actors, where there are plenty of opportunities to put yourself in front of millions of people. You have to take the bull by the huevos and create your own stuff.  If you wait to find a writer, producer, and director; it ain't ever gonna happen homie!  Sure there's a lot of crap on YouTube, and RESISTANCE is probably telling you, "It's not worth it.  Everyone is doing it already.  You're behind the times.  No one will ever see it.  There's too much already out there.  It's not original."  

What have you f'n have to lose?  Remember that fool that cried for Britney Spears?  He got some coin.  And that was CRAP.  Imagine what your creative mind could come up with?  Start with writing something.  Anything.  You'll be surprised at the wonderful things that will happen, and you'll be keeping those creative muscles going.  You'll start to become aware of new and awesome choices for that scene you've been preparing for your audition, workshop, or class.  

The more you keep the Muse at bay, the more you'll be bitter, and you will end up like the millions that fade away like the mists of Avalon.  Okay that was crap.  You get the message ese!

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