The International Writers Magazine: Actor's life for me
Plays the thing
Stories from an acting student.
so the adventure begins. The curtain opens on the next stage of
my life and I prepare to launch into the most daunting role imaginable;
professional actor. To the uninitiated and disinterested I recently
graduated from the fine city of Portsmouth, studying the fine
art of creativity.
And so the adventure
begins. The curtain opens on the next stage of my life and I prepare
to launch into the most daunting role imaginable; professional actor.
To the uninitiated and disinterested I recently graduated from the fine
city of Portsmouth, studying the fine art of creativity. Now I have
embarked upon an eight-month trek through the hills and valleys of the
full time intensive acting course at The William Davis Centre in
beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. That is in Canada by the way
and a staggering four thousand seven hundred and thirteen miles (give
or take a few) from the comforts of cozy Portsmouth town. I am in my
third week of life in Vancouver and have already learnt a great deal
about acting and indeed about myself.
Being so far from home is bound to alter and add to a person. For an
actor the most useful tool may be to savour all these experienced emotions
in order to feed them into the character you are pursuing. However as
I have been reminded the word character can have such detrimental
effects to the process of creative work. Each person that is being displayed
on the stage, on film, or even on the page must be a fully developed
individual. They are not simply an amalgamation of learnt techniques
and general speculations but a specific person. The very notion of finding
a persons distinct being for performance has really heightened
my perception of the self beyond art. How do I recognise myself in new
surroundings? Back home I have family and friends to help with identifying
my particular traits. Essentially the me that I know is the me that
they project back, the me that they and my surroundings have created.
Arriving in a new city and a new country made me question who I am right
now and who I am going to become while I am here.
That is to try and intellectualise what has happened so far here in
Vancouver, which in reality has not been the aim of my first few weeks.
Often when approaching the stage or aiming the pen we tend to focus
on the thought process attached to our actions. This of course is a
necessary approach for establishing our desires, dislikes, and overall
objectives. Despite this however we must not extinguish the possibilities
of spontaneity. After all the very concept of becoming a new person
is a child-like imitation of reality. Therefore the actor must play!
We must abandon our inhibitions and throw aside our constant self-analysis.
So far I have struggled with this task of abandonment still longing
to stay in control of my person and surroundings. Unfortunately I think
it will take a lot of work breaking down this attitude but I look forward
to tackling the problem in my daily training.
I have been fortunate enough to arrive in Vancouver at the beginning
of the cities International Film Festival and had the pleasure of catching
Lars Von Triers follow up to his controversial movie Dogville
last Saturday afternoon. His new work Manderlay is
an equally as gripping and provocative take on the complexities of modern
American society. Here Von Triers intriguing approach through
the imagining of the towns landscape opens up the issue of the
history and consequences of slavery within the US. Made ever more poignant
by the racial divisions highlighted during the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe,
the film pulls no punches in pushing the audience to address the roots
of such difference. Bryce Dallas Howard does an admirable job of following
Nicole Kidmans footsteps as the flawed but well meaning Grace.
Her interaction with the black community that she both controls and
liberates is often moving. Ultimately Von Triers movie provides
no resolution and leaves the audience with a sinking feeling of impossibility.
I left the cinema feeling both inspired by the filmmaking and angered
by the evils it concerns.
Other movies I have viewed since being in the city have been the humorous
Jim Jarmusch flick Broken Flowers which displays
another strong performance from Bill Murray. I also had the opportunity
to catch Phil Morrisons Junebug, an extremely
moving family drama that I highly recommend. It boasts an array of well-defined
people portrayed effectively by a hard working cast. What inspired me
most about this picture was how each of the characters interacted and
had believable relationships throughout. The central character George,
played soulfully by Alessandro Nivola, spends vast amounts of the film
off camera but manages some how to have an extensive effect on all the
other characters. There are some beautiful moments where the silences
of these people say so much more than if they were overloading the scenes
And to me that is the ultimate objective of an actor. Not so much to
place the weight on the lines they have or the amount of time they have
on stage but the ability to be still in the moment. I want to be on
stage and have nothing happen but at the same time have so much taking
place within me being projected to the audience. I have a long way to
go with my training and as I am frequently reminded as an actor, the
learning process never ceases. I took comfort from an interview I saw
recently with Ray Liotta who said that only now at the age of fifty
did he feel ready to be an actor. He still visits acting classes and
reads his notes from over the years. And this is the guy who was so
believably manic in the role of Henry Hill all those years ago in Goodfellas.
This does help alleviate the feelings of inadequacy that often creep
into my studies yet at the same time it emphasises just how steep the
mountain is to climb. But that is part of the adventure and in the mean
time I shall continue to forget my inhibitions and keep on playing!
© Ian Jordan October 2005
mrjd_2002 at yahoo.co.uk
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