A new friend of mine and I were having a conversation about New York. I was hmning and hawing (? how the hell do you spell that?!) about staying on for another month and I told him that I think I have really fallen in Love with the place. And love is some scary shit! The first thing that happens is that you are euphoric - and then you become afraid. What if this is not right, what if I really don't belong in this relationship - what if I get hurt? Then you have your first fight (which has already happened - see previous post). And then - if it is really the right relationship for you - you work it out. There is a serious metamorphosis taking place in the cells of my body. New York and I have settled our differences and we have learned to co-exist, dare I say it, harmoniously. It could in fact be the weather that has softened us toward one another, but I feel as though it is something way deeper than that.
I have spent the better part of my life as a dreamer. Defining myself by my optimistic attitude in the face of seeming opposition. I am the one with the hope - the one willing to take a risk even though there may have been little chance it would pay off. When I was running my cheerleading company I always felt as though things would pay off for me, but it also always felt way harder than it should have. I am now living in a place where those risks often manifest into rewards for people. Folks are getting shit done. They become inspired and then they do something about it. They have their scripts produced (after they finish writing them), they go to open mics and perform, they introduce each other to friends that can help their careers, they go to shows, they know what foie gras is and why it is repulsive. These people are like me. I have found my tribe.
New York is also like me. We are both connectors. Last night, after an amazing Strasberg class during which we all faced our fears in front of a camera - I went out with most of my classmates to an open mic where MCs were freestyling with a live band. I was introduced to this night at a place called 116 (at 116 Macdougal - a street made famous by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Jimmy Hendrix) by a guy in my improv class named Andrew who's cousin works the door (I wonder if I will still be getting hook ups to clubs when I am in my 70s). Now the chicks (and one dude) in my class are pretty fucking cool human beings so I was not surprised when they rolled in and totally assimilated with this crowd full of hip hop heads. These girls are from all over the world - Germany, Brazil, France . . . and are a really talented bunch on top of their cool-ass-ness.
What was even cooler was that as we walked in the door a stunning Canadian woman named Maya was on the mic belting out some freestyle songstressness. I had previously been virtually introduced to her by one of my new friends Mike Sereny. She and I hung out one night when I first got to New York and have been discussing the possibility of our living together in April when her room mate moves out. I had NO IDEA she was going to be there. On my way home I got to thinking about how New York has managed to do that to me a few times thus far. I randomly bumped into a classmate of mine on the subway, had Tony Danza validate me as a sexual being in a hallway, and came eye to eye with Rosie O'Donnell on a day when I was questioning my ability to really make things happen here. New York has my back. She is putting the right people in my path. But why. . .
Because it is time for a SHIFT to happen. It is time for me to go from being the dreamer to the live - er. The person who acts on her dreams and then actually sees a result in her life circumstances because of it. I think you can get addicted to living that life - to always be oscillating between hopeful and fearful and never seeing any tangible manifestation. New York is shaking the shit out of that pattern and forcing me to accept that success is actually possible. So now what?!
I just started a new improv class at UCB. I love my teacher. Not in that way. But I have learned so much from him in two days. I am actually starting to GET this improv thing! I am getting to know a whole new set of (very talented) class mates and can't wait to discover what kind of extraordinary people they are - man, everyone here is so rich with experience and cultural knowledge - it is inspiring. This massive realization that a SHIFT has happened came after pondering two getting-to-know-you conversations with new classmates. Both of them knew that I was an actor. I didn't have to tell them. - That point is really important to me and needs some space - was it because I look like one, or I act like one? One of them said I look like the actress type. Actually I do know what it is - I am living in my skin and finally doing the thing that is right for me. I am walking the walk. And everyone can see it.
I'm crying a little bit right now - joyously! I never knew I had this feeling in me - that I could KNOW so profoundly that a choice I have made (to pursue acting) is the right one. That I could walk around feeling so full. I am grateful. Hey wait - I just realized something else. This is success. This is the tangible manifestation of my dream. To be an actor because I feel like one. TO BE.
Ok - I had my moment - so now what . . .
Well - me and my new beau (New York) - we are deciding whether it makes sense to invest in each other enough to consider living together. Big step. So far she has been really good to me. I'm willing to invest in another month, but she is a very strong willed woman so I will present the idea to her and see what she thinks - I think she may have already answered me by throwing Maya and I together so randomly.
I must say though if nothing else this relationship has forever changed me. I can not go back to where I used to be.
For my actor friends - here is a bit of a round up of some of the major things I have learned as of late. . .
* I have been having problems with scenes when I am not the one who initiates them. I am getting really good at setting up the baseline and making strong offers at the beginning of scenes, but was always being too polite when someone else initiated and not coming back with something strong. I am learning that a strong choice is important at any point in the scene. period.
* Rather than playing a typical teen aged guy on his prom night - play yourself on your prom night - with all of the specificity that go with that - it is waaaay more interesting.
* Play the grounded, real emotion of a really heavy situation - i.e. the death of a loved one and then transpose it onto a light situation - i.e. the closing of your favourite sushi restaurant. Play it straight. That shit is funny.
* You decide what the game of the scene is by making whatever it is that stands out to you the important thing in the scene - it's just another strong offer - like any other - that requires a strong reaction. In other words - there is no magic answer as to what the game is. YOU decide buddy.
I have two more days of work this week-end at Strasberg. I am going to save my ideas on that for the end of the program, but I can say that it has completely enlightened my work. I feel safer, and I feel like I have a method with which to approach acting that will achieve consistent results.