Tuesday, November 10, 2009

'The Steinbeck Dilemma'

I spent the first night in my apartment. Its a fairly old complex, but in a great location, right on the river and minutes from downtown Austin. A mile away, I found a huge park and dog run right on the river. Austin is a 'dog friendly' town, its a 'leash-less' park, so Baby runs wild with the other dogs. She is happy and FINALLY tired. My apartment complex doesn't lack in musicians, I truly can throw a brick and hit musicians to the right, left, and below me. I played last night with the neighbor, (a harmonica player) until two in the morning. That was right after I went to a play reading at Lucy's neighbors house. I'm finding Austin extremely friendly and open to lots of stimulus.

I'm writing to you from Jo's, a really cool little coffee shop on Congress St., and ironically, they are playing great alt country music, I truly feel at home. Today, after writing, I need to finally get to a grocery store and cook my symbolic pot of beans in the crock pot, a week now from opening. Although I am nervous about doing 'off days' at the theatre, I've never been to a city where I've been able to hand out post cards to everyone, and everyone seems interested. I went into a pizza place yesterday and found my 'Bohemian Cowboy' poster on the wall. Needless to say, it was exciting to see it next to 'Lyle Lovett', even though he probably has a little more in his apartment than I do. This morning I was looking around at what I brought with me, and realized that everything I have are 'things that I need'. I was reading in the paper how as a 'consumer' society, we have contributed to the decline of our economy, because of our opulent tastes and personal credit run amok. I'm not wanting to criticize a person's desire to possess things, but it seems to me that to live a life consumed with getting possessions seems to be a very empty life, (I may be rationalizing), still, the energy we may spend to 'have things' could be spent in a thousand more constructive ways. Although, there are times when I wish I could possess some more essential things... I read where after John Steinbeck amassed a small fortune for his body of work, he was constantly trying to get rid of his money so he could live the life he was accustomed to. Henrik Ibsen died in a furnished room in a boarding house, with very few possessions, one of the greatest playwrights of the twentieth century. I think it is very hard to be born in a capitalist society and not be conditioned to possess things through money and power, it seems a privilege to be able to create, write, and think about these things. It seems liberating somehow to just have enough to survive, and have a 'show' to do. I will admit, however, when someone arose to give me some capital to 'get this show on the road', I was dumbfounded, had never had that opportunity before, and was determined to turn that 'belief' in what I did count for something. Although it was not a huge amount, (in a business that is always undercapitalized), after years of struggling, it was 'a shot' for me, and I will always be grateful for that opportunity. As always, the show itself is never the stressful part of doing this, its getting the damned thing opened without running out of what funding you have. However, as Gus Edwards once told me, "No one put a gun to your head and said you had to be an artist..." He was right, and sometimes I wish I would have been a plumber, (no offense to all you plumbers that are reading this) or at the least, something that had a 'pension plan'. But alas, its to late to turn back the clock, and well, the older I get the more precious life becomes, when one realizes one's mortality, time, and what you do with it becomes so much more important. Okay, so I'm preaching to the choir, still, its always good to be reminded of the brevity of life, and to make it count. I will always be thankful that I read Genet's biography at a young age. Although I didn't understand much of his existential philosophy, I did understand him when he said, "We are responsible for creating our life through the actions we take. Talking about what we want to do is vanity, we must thrust forward taking action, action, action, and take responsibility for the life we embark..." (I'm so paraphrasing) but this was the part of his philosophy I admired and understood the most, even though its not a new concept, (don't say you love me, show me) at that particular time, it made sense. And so, stepping forward once again, taking a certain kind of action, and still living on the edge. I still adhere to the idea that there is truly no real security in this life, and so its best (in my estimation) to open up the senses, open up the heart, and live life with a curiosity with some bravado. Fear is always the enemy of the artist, and well, hell, fear restricts all of us in some way, so lets get it rid of as much of it as we can...

Tomorrow I will put my feet on the stage for the first time in the theatre I'll be performing in, a three hour 'acting rehearsal'. This is without tech or props, just a 'blocking' and line rehearsal really, sometimes I wonder how much of this show is still firmly planted in my head. I do know that the more I do the show, the more its 'gets into my body', and is not quite so hard to spit out lines and think at the same time. For those who are interested in the acting process, my theory of it all is fourfold. Head, (the intellect), Heart, (the emotion), Body, (the physical) and Soul, (the spiritual). In my experience, in the beginning of this process, the intellect is the leader, (you are trying to remember everything). The focus to see lines in your head and remember where your transitions are is the main concern. For me, many of the emotions are 'acted', although there is a sense of discovering what they are with every show. What I mean by 'getting the show in my body' is when I don't have to 'think' anymore, instead, my body is moving through the show in a truthful way. There are still many sections of the show where I still have to think my way through, but three quarters of it is 'in my body'. The spiritual part, or the 'soul' part of the performance is the hardest to achieve. Fortunately, because the show is so personal, that part of it is coming faster and fuller that it would normally take me in a role. When you see a great play or performance, it is the element of the show that influences you as the audience member, and hopefully, you will always remember. It is the 'mystical' aspect of the show that moves it into your subconscious, the manna, the artistic food.

And so I end for today, the grocery store is calling me, there is more study of the script, there is the procuring of furniture pieces, beans to cook, sheets and a lamp to find...

4 comments:

Gerry said...

I was glad to see a post as I think when you are into the final stages where the actions takes place, there is a lot you want to say and fast, as opening night approaches! Enjoyed your call. Glad Baby's got a dog run. Wear those dogs and kids out is my philosopy and they won't get into so much trouble! I have always thught that with commitment to art whether it is writing plays, novels, acting, dancing, singing, etc. that way of life shuts the door on what doesn't seem necessary and opens others that are vital. That's a scarey process, too, because what we think of as necessary security may evaporate, too. Security often lies in experience and confidence just like money in the bank!

LaRena said...

Congratulations on finding what sounds like a perfect apartment for both you and baby. i was happy to hear that Austin is a dog friendly town. Means there are some open hearts there. The musicians in your complex sounds like a great bonus for a tireless artist like you.

caroline said...

Glad you found such a good place.
Like Tom said, send your address and I'll send a wee care package. Can't wait to hear about what comes.

kanyonlandking-annk.blogspot.com said...

You sound 'rich' in a apartment with beans, pad, and dog.
What more does one need? What will we do with all the stuff when death is at our door? Live a great life and I hope your show reaps reward enough for dog food!
Has anyone noticed how these
garbeled words sort of fits? Mine is guidn today...your message is a guide!