Day two of my acting workshop was both enjoyable and also very emotional. I could not believe how much of my personal dilemmas and frustrations came out in the group discussions, but I felt extremely supported by the community of artists and I could tell we were all in this journey together. Our work that day involved dialogue analysis and I realized just how good at analysis I was. I already knew that to a certain extent, but it was confirmed when I saw that this ability is not a given for everyone. That gave me quite a confidence boost as an actor and also made me grateful for the story-driven training I got from my coach and mentor, Jock MacDonald. It also made me aware of how useful directing, writing and filmmaking have been to honing my craft. So I’m also grateful to my film collective Bright Young Things for throwing me in the director’s seat when I didn’t think I was ready for it.
At the end of the workshop day, I felt so connected to the rest of the group that I suggested we all meet outside the workshop and many participants seemed very excited about that. I also exchanged coordinates with a filmmaker in the group who has been living here for a few years and will keep me informed of interesting screening events. All of these new connections made me feel encouraged and hopeful.
After class, I took the subway to Brooklyn to see my friend Emma. She was helping me record a self-taped audition for an upcoming tv series. We had an absolute blast making the tape and I was a happy actor. But I had to rush back to have a phone meeting with my film collective. I may not have shared this, but I’m taking advantage of my free time in NY to do some work on advancing BYT’s goals. I even wrote up a marketing strategy, I feel like a regular business woman! (minus the paycheck) BYT is doing some really exciting things right now and we have two films being edited. Whenever I view a new edit, I feel terribly excited and I praise the technology that allows for these remarkable long-distance collaborations.
Yesterday, I had another film school audition. This time it was to act in a directing workshop, meaning I would be working with students who are learning to be film directors. I went to my new friend Lauren’s apartment (which is gorgeous by the way! High ceilings, wood floors, exquisitely decorated, spacious!) and she helped me prepare. And then I went to NYU for the actual audition, which I thought I did very well with! Unfortunately, I was not selected, which irked me very much. Isn’t it funny how even a small thing like this can blow your confidence as a performer! I felt like they were wrong to not recognize my talent, not give me my due, blah blah blah. I suppose this is a lesson in humility. Oh well! I have another of these auditions tomorrow.
Last night, I saw my first Broadway play since arriving. I got cheap upper balcony tickets to see Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge at the Lyceum Theatre. I had never read the play, so I came to it with fresh eyes. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I was really far from the stage, I mean REALLY far. And that is not so terrible, except that I was also very high up, watching the tops of the actors heads, (that’s when they were still in my line of sight!) This made me realize something about stage acting, which I had not fully understood until then. It really is all about body and voice. Unless it’s a small venue, no one will see your face or your emotion. And so I studied the actors and evaluated what worked and what didn’t work. The lead, Mark Strong, was fantastic. I’ve only just researched him and found out he is British, which blows me away because his Brooklyn accent in the play was so convincing, I was sure he was a native New Yorker. He played the part with grit, power and subtlety. His wife, played by Nicola Walker (I’m only realizing now that the entire cast is British, wow!) was also excellent, and a personal inspiration to me. Both of them were so subtle. Their bodies were always alive, but there was no useless movement. I think the mistake is to think that theatre acting has to be “big.” Not at all, it just has to be a full body experience. It’s much more compelling to see a person stay put and speak simply, while being fully engaged, than see someone putting on a show. Some of the supporting cast lacked the grit and realism that was required for this play. I also had issues with the music. Fauré’s Requiem was used as theme music throughout the play, I suppose to highlight its tragic nature, which ultimately leads to death. But I felt that was a bit obvious and distracting. Although I love that piece, I would rather hear it on its own than try to attach it to this story.
Ultimately, the real star of this play is the writing. The actors could have been terrible, the story would still have been compelling and honest. It got under my skin and left me feeling almost sick at the end. I suppose that with such a story, the actors’ biggest job is not to get in the way of the text.