An ‘Actor’s Writer’? And feeding the Soul to enjoy the Journey.Posted: December 13, 2012
Despite my intention to write about politics in this post, life is throwing me experiences related unambiguously to writing for performance at the moment… so I’m going to go with that for now.
Back in April I pretty much let go of any active intention to be a scriptwriter (even though I’m still a part-timer in a Screenwriting course). In fact, I let go of all intentions to be anything other than a Woman who was able to just… be. (If you know the backstory, you know that this was a hard enough goal. I got issues, man). I reached a point where absolutely nothing seemed to be worthy of effort, and where the only thing that truly mattered to me was finding a state of complete peace and divine love within. Success for me became about nurturing my connection to Spirit – everything else felt fleeting and meaningless. I STILL feel that, even as I pursue goals in the world. That is the perspective through which I view everything now. My #1 priority is sorted – I couldn’t care less about “making it”… I want a soulful life.
Without realising it, I had essentially renounced the world, and had let go of attachment to any of my dreams… including the dream to be a scriptwriter.
Yet, the moment I did that – completely let go of all ambition to attain anything, and surrendered to the great unknown, I felt my life flowing again, in completely unexpected ways. I can’t really explain it better than that. Opportunities came without effort. I encountered people, places and experiences out of the blue that supported completely, and at the completely right time (dharma), my desperately needed healing and evolution as an artist and a Woman. I felt myself being drawn along a new creative path. And all the while, peace, intuitive guidance, and divine love within – my true, inner home – sustained me. 2012 was and is a magnificent year.
And so, a 9-year cycle of blocks, debilitating self-doubt and absolutely necessary self-healing/clearing of karmic bullshit came to an END. My heart is clear, and I’ve started writing my first full length play – in preparation for a PlayWriting Australia development program I’ve been accepted into for 2013 (an incredible and much needed blessing I am hugely grateful for). Gratitude aside, recently it has dawned on me the effort that will be required to produce the quality I want to hit, on what is already proving to be a pretty painful (but cathartic) play to write. Trying to write a scene recently, I felt out of my depth. Then I started to panic. Then I remembered the lesson of the year: “let go… trust.” And then, internally, I did just that.
I have learned that, for me, when I fully let go of wanting, what needs to happen in my life, happens, and the answers I need do in fact come. It makes no friggin sense… but good shit happens.
And it did. A few days later, I was given two great experiences that essentially provided all the solutions I needed for that intense scene, and slew the self-doubt demon. One of these experiences came to me last night. I was invited by friend/actor Marie to accompany her to her Melbourne Actors Lab session in St Kilda, and it was an illuminating experience, for many reasons. The Melbourne Actors Lab provides a space where actors can experiment and develop their own voice, whilst focusing on Meisner, Strasberg and Adler techniques. The session was led by Peter Kalos, and the man actually knows his stuff. I observed him being brilliant at guiding the actors with really specific yet simultaneously open-ended critiques to push them in the direction of their truth for their characters.
I didn’t really know what to expect from the session, and I ended up staying there from 7pm – 12am (no kidding). The actors do 40 minutes of relaxation, followed by 40 minutes of sensory work. 20 minutes of character work then follows, followed by scene work. What I saw was just the scene work! I’m completely fascinated by the process of embodying a character and fleshing out beats, so this was really like porn for me. The time flew. Marie said I came on a good evening – the various scenes worked on were pretty intense, sexual, confronting, vulnerable and uncomfortable. Some actors were on game and some were not… a couple were mesmerising. Peter will stop scenes to discuss things with the actors when necessary and give feedback at the end too. It felt like a really safe space for these creative people, and I appreciate that (they made me feel super welcome, too). These techniques are not for pussies, so a safe space certainly helps.
I gained a lot from Peter’s guidance to the actors, which miraculously gave me direct solutions to the script problems I’ve been having – I might as well have asked him my questions directly! Before scene work commenced, he also took a moment to talk to them about the importance of “feeding” yourself as an artist, to sustain you along your journey. I’ve spent the last three years learning that lesson on my own – of discovering what truly makes me come alive (Spirituality, Culture, Art, Activism!) and using it to “feed” me, guide me, support myself as I pursue a goal that even I admit is crazy. This is even more so the case for those who feel compelled to act. If there is nothing else but an obsessive desire to WIN jobs going on in their lives, depression and alcoholism is almost a foregone conclusion. Everyone needs to feed their souls, not merely to avoid mental collapse, but, I would add, to ensure their art is coming from the most pure place within them. I have a theory that this imbues performances with extra power. You can tell when someone is ONE with they do.
There was one more thing I took away from the session – I had an epiphany, of sorts, about the kind of writer I am and want to develop into. I feel horribly out of place, inept, and frankly pissy in my writing for screen classes, yet am at ease when watching, being taught by or working with actors – as I have experienced with PlayWriting Australia. And I now realise why: I approach writing like an actor approaches the creation of a character. When I’m writing a scene I don’t see/hear lines… I see facial expressions. Body language. Feel emotions. I see in my head all of the little intricacies of tone of voice and gesture that inform a viewing audience of the subtext behind and beyond the lines (which are quite often irrelevant). So, in (the very near) future, I very much want to collaborate closely with actors to develop scripts – be an “actor’s writer”, if you will. Maybe, even, eventually, a director… maybe…
In any case, as always, I let go of the outcome and surrender myself to the universe 😉
Right now, I’m just enjoying this leisurely journey.