Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Beginning of the End (It's a Long One).

Hey Abyss,

I apologize for the lack of posts recently, honestly this is the first day that I have had to myself since I came back from Christmas Break. A lot has happened, and I am continuing to make discoveries everyday. I'm gonna be honest; this post, if you have yet to see the length, is a long one.

When I arrived back in Montreal, I went to see a show called Iceland written by Nicolas Billon and Directed by Ravi Jain (who directed me in Lion in the Streets earlier this year). I was blown away by the simplicity of the show, which consisted of minimal lights and sound, three chairs and three actors with perfect costumes. There was something so beautiful about the three of them just telling the same story from their different points of view. After the show finished, I walked away so full. It has been such a long time since I have left a theatre production wanting to tell every person I see about it. All aspects were so on point, I was mesmerized by everything. Seeing this show also made me think about my own work and how things do not need to be complicated to tell a good story, in fact if one has a good story to tell one doesn't need all the tricks to keep people interested. The actors were so comfortable and real I honestly just wanted to spend all night with them, regardless of their personalities.

Seeing this was a perfect way to start the beginning of the end. Classes started the following day and there was an energy about my class that I have been looking forward to for a long time. There was a calmness about walking into movement class that monday morning. I have spent three years with these people, they have seen me at my best and worst, and likewise I have seen them. Everything we do from now until the end of the year is the last time we do it, and I really want to make sure that I am making the most of everything. I feel confident about my place in the class and I am tired of wasting energy on keeping up appearances with my classmates. I am in a very "take it or leave it" state right now and I just want to focus, and have fun these few months.

Our first project of the term was preparing for our Theatre Ontario showcase, which happened in Toronto at the Young Centre a few weeks ago. Essentially, it's a showcase for all the graduating acting students from theatre schools in and around Toronto. We all perform pieces for some of the top agencies, artistic directors and casting directors in the country, and we hope that they will take interest in us an give us a job. Afterwards, some students are contacted and others aren't. With over 350 students performing in two days, it would be difficult to remember who is who. I had an awesome time and met a lot of really cool people, but the project for me was ultimately about working with our two awesome coaches (Brendan Healy and Ian Watson) on monologue prep.

Working on monologues with Brendan and Ian was so liberating, and really brought me back to the fundamentals of acting. This year for me, so far, has been all about application. I have been exposed to so many ways into the work and now the people that are being brought in are helping us to apply our tools in the most effective and result oriented ways. Learning how to choose a monologue is so essential and I feel like after working with these two for two weeks I have a lot more confidence in what pieces can show me well and how to build a little portfolio of pieces.

While in Toronto, we auditioned for Paul Gross and Deirdre Bowen for an upcoming short film that Paul will be directing us in. It was such an awesome experience to meet Deirdre as she is one of the top casting directors in Canada. She was so candid and honest with us about what she expects and looks for. There was something so beautiful about her describing her job as "a storyteller" she is constantly looking for the person best suited to "Tell the Story". This example really cemented for me that getting a no is not a rejection of who I am, but that I am not the person who is meant to tell this story. The whole weekend was such a whirlwind and I saw and met so many people, I was in a state of euphoria and it made me even hungrier to get to Toronto and hit the ground running.

Upon our return, we started rehearsal for The Changeling, a Jacobean tragedy, which is being directed by the legendary David Latham; who I can honestly say is a theatre god. He has such a huge capacity for language, teaching and is remarkably specific. I have been waiting all year to work with him, and honestly (being three weeks in) I'm getting my money's worth. I was given an extremely difficult character, in my opinion, and David is constantly pushing me further and further into the creation and specificity of this man who is rather repugnant and without morals, who I am slowly learning how to love.

In the last few weeks I have had some really hard days; I have gotten frustrated, panicked, come home exhausted, needing to cry, cried, felt like no one understood me, felt that everyone else was clearing having an easier, less intense time, got angry at my cats for existing, spent hours memorizing, and re-reading my scenes, breathed and realized that this is what I love more than anything.  And it dawned on me; THIS is acting!  No one ever said that is was going to be easy, it should be a challenge. I am striving to become another person for a moment in time, all of their lives up to that point I must feel in my bones, everything they say has to come from my mouth and mind. I have to be truthful and honest for them to have life.  There will be internal and moral conflict, there will be artistic blocks and lack of creativity, but I have to know that this is the work and to allow myself to fail and try again. To prove the I am capable, but know that I am not perfect and will struggle, ideally.

And I think this is where my biggest problem lies; most of the time I have been able to rest on my laurels and "get by". People will laugh and enjoy my performance, the emphasis on perform, but have never allowed myself to fully explore the inner being of my characters, specifically at the school. Perhaps because I was stubborn and just wanted to do what I knew I could do, which is perform, but as this is an acting school at some point I had to act. To be honest, I want to be an actor, not just a performer, so I am not looking at any of this as a bad thing, instead I am seeing it as growth and becoming more confident in my abilities. My talent has always been there, its truly just specializing it.

Working with David, Brendan and Ian has forced me to work harder than I have in years, by way of actually consuming the text on a regular basis and weaving it into my whole being. For such a long time I have attempted to "put a character on" but when I actually invest in what the text is telling me about said character and make the focus about looking inward and revealing them and myself, things end up being so much more connected, deeper and truthful. That is how I can honestly bring someone to life, and also discover the many facets of myself.

Although this character is very dark and demented, I have confidence that in the next few weeks I will fall in love with him and I will eventually find the release in being him. I cannot think of a better combination of things right now in my education, I feel so heavy and it is a good thing. I am understanding what it is like to be in process and allow myself to just keep swinging until I break down the glass barrier between me and the character.

Life is good. I love being an artist, and all that I have control over is the ability to keep making good work and surround myself with people who are positive and push me to do great things.

Check out my little demo reel ---> Click Here.

Night Abyss.