Friday, July 11, 2014

Lessons Learned.

I am currently waiting for my phone to charge so that I may head to the gym, and whilst I wait I may as well reflect.

I just got home from my 4th lesson with Susan Cuthbert and things are going extremely well. She is able to provide me valuable and practical insights towards monitoring my voice, as well as sharing beautiful stories from her past and present work. We share so many insecurities and fears that it is a truly therapeutic experience being with her. 

I know that perhaps I can get repetitive with my epiphanies, but the more I burrow into my life as a working actor and trying to find my niche in this big world, the more discoveries I make about myself and how I can move forward with a positive and healthy mindset.

Between working 3 jobs, doing audition prep, singing lessons and hosting for a show at the Tarragon I was exhausted come Sunday. This week taught me that I do actually need time for myself, sure I can "manage" to get all those things done, but am dead when it comes down to where my energy is needed most: Auditioning. There was a moment this week where I was not as prepared as I should have been for an audition, and it showed. Not necessarily to the casting directors but to myself. This was the breaking point for me. Sure, I need money to pay my bills, but I never want to be so busy that I cannot dedicate the time that my health and passion require. These 2 things need my constant attention, no matter what.

The aforementioned audition taught me something big: I received the sides the night before and there was quite a bit of text. As a challenge for myself I wanted to see if I could have it confidently memorized for the next day, despite the time crunch. I woke for my 10:15 audition I ran the lines in the shower (my ritual) and I made it through confidently; I travelled out to the casting location and met a friend of mine who also happened to be going out for the same role. He was calm and collected (or at least he appeared to be) and I was about as nervous as a suspect about to be interrogated by Matthew McConaughey on True Detective .

I wasn't focused on getting the role, but more on proving to myself that I could memorize a lot of text on short notice.

I went in and attempted to get my breath under me and stack up my American Bravado. I started the take really well and had almost made it the entire way through before I stumbled and froze. My brain blanked and that little green man jumped in and started yelling, "See, I knew you didn't know it!" In my panic and frustration I called "line"...which you DON'T do in a film audition and upon remembering this my brain started firing off surrender flags and my bravado smashed like a glass window having a stone thrown threw it. 

To my surprise, the casting director said I had a great voice and requested that I go again, without saying "line". At this point I was so embarrassed by the previous event that I couldn't even get the first few lines out without apologizing. I went for a third time and stated that I was going to use my sides to give them a clean take.

The reason I had not used my sides until then was because I am stubborn and wanted to prove to myself that I could do it without using them. The issue was that this was not the place or time to be challenging myself in this way. The casting directors don't have time to watch me take copious amounts of time to work through a personal barrier.

I finished the 3rd take and the casting director repeated his compliment of my voice and said I had done a good job. He then asked for my resume and said that I must have a theatre background based on me saying "line". As I handed him my resume and turned to go, holding my dignity in pieces, he called after me saying, "You need to get those nerves under wraps, kid!"

I couldn't agree more.

I walked out of the office and walked down the street so deeply disappointed in myself, for not only letting myself get in my own way, but for not being as prepared as I thought. It made me want to find a way to simulate high-pressure situations so that I could get comfortable in them before the next audition. After thinking about this for a moment I realized that there is no way I could do that, the only way I can get better at auditioning is simply auditioning.

I have to learn how to embrace the tension that comes with this aspect of my career and use it to my advantage. I have to strive to be so prepared that nothing can throw me off my game. I have to come to terms with the fact that I am a nervous actor, acknowledge it and keep moving forward.

That night I spoke to my pseudo parents, Nina and Richard, about the aforementioned audition and how to get my nerves "under wraps". This was Nina's frank and loving response, "There is no formula to doing the 'perfect' audition. It is a useless and impossible endeavor. Take 5 minutes and reflect afterwards on what you learned then move on to the next thing; there are so many factors out of your control that it isn't worth focusing on them." She then followed up by saying, "And please don't do the f**king Sex and the City s**t where you dwell on how you could have done it better for two days in bed. I will f**king punch you in the face if you do that."

Love is a many splendored thing. 

I had a break through with Susan last week; we got to a place in my voice where I was scared to let it go. I was trying so hard to maintain control over my voice that I was stopping it from letting it sing me. It was through this moment that I realized the crux of my issues lie in the fact that I am afraid of what I might be capable of. I am actually afraid of myself. This is not to say that I have never let go, I have many times but usually in performance. When there is no safety net. One would think that this would be scarier, but it is actually liberating because there is no way out. I simply bring it or I don't. I have to start instilling this "performance" theory into rehearsal. 

My analytic brain wants to find the key to this deadbolt. I feel that if I can unlock my insecurity, of seeing what would happen if I just released, then my life would improve vastly. I seriously need to just trust and open myself up. 

I am the deadbolt, and action is the key. 

The more I discover the more I realize I already have all the answers, they are all around me. I simply need to use them. And the only way to do that is to hunker down and execute. I need to stop making excuses, like time or energy, and give my life the stakes it requires. 

I am in a constant search for balance.

P.S. I have some great news coming down the pipes so stay tuned. 

Also, if you yet to purchase/rent/or download a copy of All the Wrong Reasons I would highly recommend it. 

It is officially available on all platforms. 

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