Monday, April 28, 2014

C U in 4, Mom.

On Friday, I saw Mies Julie by Yael Farber at Place-des-Arts. I was blown away by the whole theatrical experience and am still thinking about what I witnessed that night. The raw energy and emotions had a huge impact on me and each actor’s performance resonated with me in its own intricate way. I was moved entirely by the performance of Zoleka Helesi, who played Christine; she was brilliant and broke my heart more than once.

Moms kill me. I love mine too much.

It was the kind of theatre I love: Raw, visceral, real and ultimately imitating life at its highest point, with a few stylistic moments. After seeing the show, some of The Circle cast and myself caught up with Bongile Mantsai, who played John. He gave some beautiful insights on his experience with theatre, as he feels he is more of a dancer, and working with Yael, who is a force of nature. He was extremely kind and especially generous with his time after such an exhausting show. Something he said has really sat with me, he said that he doesn't like "acting". He said, that if he feels like he is acting it isn't real for him. Makes sense. The work for him comes from simply being John. He said that when the role was presented to him, he told Yael that he did not want to "act" and she replied, she was not looking for an actor; she wanted someone who could be John. After seeing the show,  I can say that he did just that. When he spoke about this idea it brought some clarity to my own work. I find I can get frustrated with actors who need to discuss every detail of what is going on with their character and why they would do the things that the script is saying. I feel like it can get quite pedantic trying to figure out every rhyme or reason as to why someone would do something. Do we know why we do everything? No, so why is there such a need to figure out every character. I believe that my job is to bring the text to life, to make offers that work with the text and simply do what the text is saying my character does.

"Why would my character do this?" Because the script says they do, and in the case of a great director, trust that they know what they want and do what they ask for. I know it could be argued that I should feel free to voice my opinion and what I think my character might do, but what I took from Paul Gross and David Latham this year, was that my character is actually our character. We are building a living human together. So is it wrong to not fight them? Am I so bold as to think that I know more about this person that anyone else involved in the process? Who knows. What I do know is that as soon as I think I know who someone is, they usually surprise me. In life and on stage.

If acting is supposed to be imitating life, than that is my goal, to simply immerse myself in the writing and fully experience what the character does in each moment. Its funny, I forget who said this but, "...Actors rely on so many people for their job to even exist." Meaning: You have directors, playwrights, set, costume and lighting designers, all who create the world for the actor. Without these important people what are we really? Just people, standing there. Bare. So what makes us special from any other regular person? In my opinion, what separates actors from, say, office clerks is the ability to inhabit other people and convince someone that we are that person as well as being able to authentically fabricate (I'm aware of the oxymoron) an array of emotions. It's a hard job and whatever it takes to get into the skin and mind of that character is the process, but don't be so arrogant as to put that process on anyone else, especially other actors.

As I tend to do, I have been thinking about my life and what I actually want from it. I find that the more I talk to people who seem passionate about one particular aspect of acting, whether it is film or travelling around in a caravan putting on puppet shows for farm kids in the mountains, the more I realize I actually have no idea what I want. I love performing. I am learning how to be a better actor and starting to trust and explore my creation abilities. That being said, I still feel like I have yet to land on one specific thing that I want. Over the last few weeks I have been writing artistic statements as part of some summer program applications, and they have got me really digging deep into what actually motivates me as an artist. The one conclusion that I have come to is fear. I am afraid of not being able to do what makes me happiest. I am afraid of becoming stale and unable to book any work that excites or impassions me, or at the very least; pays my rent. I am afraid of all my work amounting to nothing and me having to resort to slaving away at a Joe job because I couldn't get my career off the ground. I am afraid of being that 34 year old hipster guy who reads his poetry from a dirty moleskin to a bunch of 20 year olds who are snapping their fingers at anyone who farts and wears a beret. Yes, that is the epitome of hell for me.

Sitting here, writing this, all I want for myself is to be happy. To live my dreams. Having enough notoriety that I get a choice in what projects I want to be a part of. Having enough credibility that people hire me for my energy and enjoy being around me. To be valued, and diverse, to always surprise people and myself, to be a dad someday and have enough money to support that kid. Maybe and actor isn't the best profession for that last goal, but why not? I have seen so many artists at the school that have families and solid relationships and they have not had to sacrifice their career, they just make it work. I've accepted that I am always going to be poor, but I am going to look damn good being poor, and so will my potential baby. I am not searching for fame, but if fame allows me to be part of amazing projects then so be it. I want the best for myself and I will fight to have it. That's the best I can do.

Things are very quickly wrapping up here in Montreal. My 3-year journey is coming to a speedy end and I am looking back with a smile on all the things that have gotten me to this point. 9 extremely talented and different people surround me. New Words has divided us, and over theses last few weeks I have really felt the separation. I can sense, from everyone, the need to start new chapters, and move forward into our adult lives, yet at the same time experiencing the loss of our family who has managed to go through hell and back over the last 3 years. No one makes me angrier or more proud than these people; I cannot wait for this week to start and have our shows playing together in harmony. Broken legs for everybody.

This is it: let the final week begin.

Night Abyss.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Hey Abyss,

Today I am 23.

I was able to get out and have some fun last night, which was great. As I awoke this morning at 9am (after drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels and 4 tequila shots) I realized that my youth was still intact. Even though I don't party very often, my body is still resilient, it was comforting.

After feeling this surge of youth it dawned on me how much needs to be done before I graduate. I have less than a month to get things in order and prepare myself for a location and lifestyle shift. So, with all that life stuff on my mind I felt it best to get out of the house and avoid doing any of it. Montreal was beautiful this morning and it reminded me of how remarkable the Summers are here.

I just want it to be warm. I want to go swimming at the beach. I want to drink Heineken and barbecue. I want to lay in sun all day; reading all of the books I have accumulated, but haven't had the time to enjoy. I want to see my friends and hear about their lives. I want to be in Toronto. I want to work. I want to start my new life. I want to be a working actor again. I want money. Money for food, music and fashion. I want to be rich and buy the clothes I want--wow, things escalated fast there. I know I keep saying this but I am so ready to move. I am in this state where I just want to start packing and be as ready as I can for when that gate door unlocks and the race begins.

I feel like Lizzie McGuire's Mom in that episode from season 2 where she goes bargain hunting.

Hand me one of those blue energy drinks and let me fight for the good stuff; my career.

Rehearsals have been going really well. I put my foot in my mouth at the start of this process by arrogantly saying that I was not scared of my character and that I didn't think it would be that much of a shift from who I am in real life. Needless to say that pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. It was cocky of me to think that I wouldn't be challenged in this role. I am eating my words now as this week I was up against some deeply personal things and really working hard to acknowledge those fears and move past them. Everyone on the team is doing great work and I am striving to be up to par. One of the challenges of being an actor is really digging into these vulnerable places and finding or rediscovering parts of yourself, then bringing it to life and living in that scary or forgotten place. This role is opening me up to new ways of thinking and I am deeply enjoying it despite the momentary discomfort.

I would rather be challenged than comfortable. I know I am on the right track when it is scary and difficult. Why would I want to do anything but that. An actor's job isn't easy. Or at least I think it shouldn't be. Constantly being in a state of unknown and having to trust what is happening around you is a huge lesson to learn as a person in one life time. To keep learning it every time one approaches a role requires a lot of stamina and self awareness. One has to be deeply in touch with themselves, and I can't wait to keep digging.

Not this week, but the week following I have an audition in Toronto and I am starting to prepare this week. I have a huge support system and I really want to use it. I am excited about the possibility of getting the part and am going to work diligently on nailing every aspect of it. My thought is: as long as I feel I did my absolute best in the room than I have succeeded. It's just another opportunity to build a person and present them.

This post is a little shorter than usual because all the things I have put off doing all day actually need to be done. Even writing this entry is procrastinating.

I want to thank all of the readers for being so loyal to this blog. Last week Would-Be reached over 10,000 views. This has been a 3-year project so far and I cannot wait to see how it picks up as I enter the real world and get back into the game.

Keep reading.

Night Abyss.