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In life, over half the battle is suiting up and showing up. At least that’s what I was told anyway. It isn’t about where we show up to, or even the sometimes, seemingly deep reasons, why we show up there. It’s really about what we’re showing up with. 

This is especially true in the case of the audition process. Although our why is the heart of things, (for us) “what” you bring is PRETTY damn important, (for them) especially if it’s not quite seasoned just right.

The best acting teacher in the world, (David LeGrant) always warned us about getting overly excited to be seen by anyone in the business that had the ability to hire us. He would say, “Be careful in your early training NOT to be too eager to get yourselves into showcases, for the simple fact that there might not be anything in your case, to show.”

I laughed every time.  (R.I.P. Sweet David.)

It may sound a bit harsh, but it’s definitely true. The ego, along with our right brain gets all hopped up, and delivers us something like: “Let’s do this!” Our left brain justifies it, buys it, and with spontaneous acting skills derived from nowhere, (other than perhaps our backsides) we leap. We make short films, we write our own plays, and or we crash auditions for parts that we are usually completely WRONG or unprepared for.

People have way better recall than we think, especially casting Directors! Having this skill, saves them time, money, and frustration. The wonderful airy-fairy idea of them possibly understanding that you are an actor who is constantly growing and improving your skills, is wishful thinking. Many green actors will think that just because they haven't read for a particular casting agent for a substantial amount of time, that they will be granted not just a do-over, but that they will be met with an open minded approach and a clean slate. Yeah, not so much. It’s more similar to, “Hey, that’s the amateurish waiter that was all awkward, the last time we were here. I’ll never make the mistake of sitting in their section on purpose, again.” When your “headshot” comes  across their desk, the last note you sang, literally or figuratively, is what they remember. 

Of course some of us have experienced situations that could only be deemed supernatural, as far as witnessing an unexpected and drastic shift in a person’s demeanor, but it is very rare. Accidentally getting the same waiter or waitress that was unacceptably rude to you the first few times that you were blessed with their service, then witnessing a miraculous spiritual awakening, that seems to have reincarnated them into a kind, generous, and helpful service professional, is nothing that can be counted on. Professionals that are in charge of hiring talent want professionals that they can count on. Actors that can act, and can be expected to do so regularly, are the ones that get the calls, and they book. The others slip and slide around any casting office they can get into until some of the mud sticks. 

When new pianists are first starting out, they are drilled endlessly, to work on learning notes, familiarizing themselves with keys, doing finger exercises, scales, connecting notes etc. NOT playing music. 

I have found that many creatives, especially actors, want to just dive in and bang on the keys. 

It’s true, there are several wonderful stories about the ultra determined actors that moved to Hollywood and started working right away, but even they were pointed to the safe and sacred playgrounds of acting class, to build, solidify, and maintain the beautiful instrument that they were gifted. 

Hit us up on our contact page, if you’d like to explore.

Thursday

February 14, 2019

So, Valentines Day huh?

Whatcha know about that?

We can go with the lovey dovey Anonymous Expression of your fond feelings towards someone, or the fact that some weird stuff went on and CERTAIN people wanted to twist it, make it their own, and then sell it back to ya. Any way you slice it, Love should be a good thing.

This would be a great place to go on a tangent about how we should celebrate Love every day that we’re alive and on this side of the grass, but I won’t. I’ll say this instead: I once had a mentor explain to me the value of bringing love to all situations. He taught me that no matter what the question is, love is the answer.

My mind automatically began to search every nook and cranny of my hurt neural pathways to prove him wrong. Yeah, he was on point. It turns out that because I did not have such an awesome set of tools to assist me in loving and being loved, I automatically wanted to control all of it. I wanted to limit what kind and how much went in either direction.
I’m slowly growing out of those fears.

Happy Thursday. Love each other well.

Creative Recovery

February 11, 2019

A friend of mine once told me a story about his failed attempt to make a buck one rainy afternoon. The actual number of dollars that he stood to earn, would have been slightly more than a buck though. It was closer to several hundred-thousand of em’. The business he was in, was real estate. This particular rainy afternoon, he was at the top of his game and ready to do big business. He new exactly what his prospect had been looking for, and he owned it. It was a slam dunk, if ever there was one. His ducks were in order, and it was game on! He had confirmed with the client that morning, and he was pumped.

He got to the property early, and was walking it, and clearing any loose trash, when he came across this soaking wet man in a T-shirt and shorts. He introduced himself and asked if there was anything he could do to help this poor man. The man said that he had been on the streets for a long time, and that he was tired. He told my friend that drugs and alcohol may have driven him to his knees, but what a perfect place to surrender. He said he was willing to do anything to turn his life around. They discussed his need for detox, shelter, and clothes. By this time, my buddy began to look at his watch, wondering where the hell this big talking land developer was, because he was already a half hour late. This “big-shot” had perfect directions, and was also a stickler for being on time. After a few minutes more of listening to the man in need, my friend began to pray. What came to him was simply this: It’s never really about, what WE think it’s about.

He slowly began to realize that he was there to love and serve the homeless man, and not to make money. They enjoyed a meal together, purchased some clothes and his new friend was able to get a same day check in to a detox/rehab... 

I think of this story OFTEN! 

When I was younger, and studying to become an actor, I knew like I knew like I knew, that my drive and determination would take me to fame and fortune. My dues had been paid, and it was my turn. The life that I had survived, was plenty for me to draw from and I believed that the stage was set. I had never been so sure of something in all my life. In my past, mediocrity had been my middle name in all my endeavors. I wasn’t even a good addict. But this particular creative vehicle, that by design, was built to deliver what I had been carrying, was perfect. My vision boards were splattered with Sir Anthony Hopkins, Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and of course myself. 

It was a time of “If you can see it, you can have it”, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it”, and “If you can dream it, you can become it”. All of this was all uplifting and inspiring and stuff,  but it was still confusing for sure! Either way, I was sure that It was in the cards for me. I studied, 

I studied, I studied, and you guessed it, I studied some more.

Even aside from the class that I was enrolled in at the Studio, our teacher allowed us to attend, but not participate in, his other classes. I went to all of them. Little did I know, they were fueling something else. As the years went by, I became a member of a couple of Theatre Companies, landed an agent, and started getting out there and performing every chance I got. 

After many years of studying, I realized that I was also becoming really drawn to writing, directing, and teaching. Working with others in class, or in the theatre, gave me many opportunities to ask others for their permission to help them when they were stuck. Apparently I spoke a language that could be heard, because the response was always wonderful. The opportunity to start teaching presented itself,  and I went for it. I taught adults, and together, my wife and I taught children. Doing this work instantly uncovered a feeling of purpose. 

Over time, a handful of my students ended up being friends of ours, that were also walking the path of recovery. This added a whole new dimension to what had been going on in class, up to this point. I knew them, better than their therapists.

Imagine a person that speaks only two languages, visiting a country where no one speaks either, and through divine intervention, they are provided with an individual that speaks both. If you held on through that last sentence, then you may proceed. After this amazing revelation of how my gifts could serve those in recovery, my wife and I began to use these classes in every capacity possible. We used them in counseling internships, our kid’s schools, and local treatment facilities and Sober Livings. 

Until you have witnessed or experienced first hand, the dance of a creative workout, with two open hearts and minds ebbing and flowing, stretching and exploring, there is most likely not another word that I can use to explain it. Allow me to at least attempt an explanation of just the potential, of such a connection. 

Have you ever owned an instrument that you couldn’t play? The most common example of this, is that of a guitar. It hangs on your living room wall in all its glory, fully strung with fresh strings and a shiny logo. And, one day “that” person enters your home, points to it, and says, “Do you mind?” To which you reply, “Of course not. Go for it. Knock yourself out.” They quickly tune it, and begin to play in a way that makes you question every ounce of talent that you have ever even imagined possible for yourself, or any human being, that has ever existed, since the beginning of time, amen. 

This my friends, is the way I feel when I meet someone with an honest desire to learn how to play their own instrument, but yet there they stand in all their external gorgeousness, blocked by the unknowing of their possibilities. In this analogy, the only difference between them and the guitar, is that they are both the beginning musician and the invaluable instrument. 

This work has taken me from self to selfless, and I give, because I was given. 

We are now offering classes that are focused on Recovery and Healing. The growth required on this path to a truly healed and substance free life, is addressed in our Creative Recovery Classes. 

It’s NEVER about what we think it’s about. 

I thought that I was supposed to act.

For now, I’m just gonna “act” like a guy with a key to some doors. 

Shoot me an email if you’d like to interview for class. 

I AM Relaxed

February 4, 2019
People..Wait, let me start again. MOST people do not even realize how tense, stressed, and fearful they are. We are normally one big cover-up, that is very often layers deep. The cover-up is usually covering up a cover-up. If that makes sense to you, you’re in the right place.


Finding out where tension lives in our bodies is extremely important if we’re going to address our nervousness.

There is nothing more frustrating than having the intention of doing something that involves using our bodies (our instruments) and our speech in a very specific way, only to have something very unplanned occur instead. A perfect example, that most individuals can relate to is the interview process. We rehearse/prepare for hours, sometimes days. We’ll tell ourselves, “I’ll say this, and then they’ll say that, to which of course I’ll respond with this little bit of brilliance. It’ll be great! They’ll love it. 

The appointment time comes, and we get our true selves there, and then because of some unforeseen force, someone else shows up in our place.

Once we enter that office something else transpires. The wonderful plan of attack, seems to go out the window. It’s as if the car began to drive itself for however long we were in the interview. We leave that office feeling confused and somewhat discouraged. We begin to question everything. How is that even possible? We practiced for hours. It was as if once that tightly wound ball of rubber bands started to unwind, there was basically no stopping it. Not even our mid-interview apology for our nervousness, made any difference. Our attempts at deep breathing didn’t help us a bit, either. 

 D.L.G. (David LeGrant) always told me: “I know, I know, it’s like the casting director becomes ten foot tall and it feels like we’re reading from a twenty foot hole in the ground.”

 Finding out where we carry our nervous tension is key. It needs to be found in order to get rid of it. 

Imagine stretching and relaxing the wrong set of muscles for whatever it is that you are undertaking. Then compare this concept of being able to properly stretch and relax the appropriate muscles and how this might affect your your performance.

I hope this analogy makes a bit of sense. To the individual who experiences nervousness, it should.

“Mucho” of the work that we do at The Gallery has a constant underlying focus on nervousness, as it can be a debilitating obstacle when we allow it. When it is not addressed, it will color everything we do. 

Just as the athlete must get in and maintain top form, an actor/performer must do the same. 

 Over time, opportunity will be met with preparedness, and we will play our song with a finely tuned instrument, just the way we intended. 

Thespian Cloth

February 1, 2019
Acting is one of the most incredible outlets for creative expression that there is. Biased? Maybe. I’m an actor and a teacher, whattaya want from me? It’s fun, it’s cathartic, and it’s definitely a self esteem builder for sure. As a hobby or a confidence booster, it’s a tool that’s second to none. It has the ability to help you face fears that you didn’t even know you had, and the very nature of it’s versatility will provide ways for you to experience things that you would have never otherwise had the chance. The process will also bring endless opportunities to face other random situations that you would have most likely avoided.
 

On the other hand, as a profession, it can be an extremely difficult business to get into, and is very much, not for the thin skinned. It’s been said many times that, unless you are one hundred and ten percent positive that Acting is something you HAVE to do, don’t do it! If there is a slight chance that you may be interested in pursuing a career doing something else, by all means, DO It! It is not for the faint of heart.   In depth training and keeping our instruments finely tuned is a constant effort, and the competition is fierce. Finding representation, and getting into the proper unions are difficult enough tasks as it is, let alone the sometimes emotionally taxing audition process.  

Although some of this may seem quite discouraging, for those of you who are cut from the thespian cloth, there is NOTHING that could keep you away. It’s in your blood. You will be focused and driven to crush it. The challenge and opportunity to rise to the occasion is attractive, and you will do well!  

None of what was mentioned previously was meant as a deterrent. The only intention behind it was to prepare the individual for the work that lies ahead.  

Acting as an art, is a discipline, and the sacred space of the Acting Class is to the actor, what the dojo is to the martial artist or the music studio to the musician. Without regular training, our Acting muscles can atrophy, and our mental alertness will lessen. When these things transpire, our believability tends to diminish and our awareness is compromised.  

Since, as actors, our job is to create the illusion of “the first time”, when we are not fresh, alert, and ready, almost everything we do will be perceived as rehearsed. When we are finely tuned instruments, we can perform accordingly. After only a short period of time away from the actor’s gym (class), we begin to witness the weakness of our instrument, noticing just how quickly it can become out of tune. The Acting Gallery provides a safe, sacred, and encouraging arena to hone your craft and prepare you for the challenges that come with being a performer.

We Play and We Learn

January 28, 2019

In almost all trades, unlearning bad habits can be more difficult than learning new techniques. The same is true with Acting. Most often this is a hard pill to swallow, especially for the actor that has already worked in the business, as they have been praised and compensated, and compensated and praised. These ego strokes, can have a negative effect on one’s ability to hear new information. We’ve been acknowledged for all the awesomeness that we are, and now someone wants to tell us that we have bad habits? How dare they! 

It’s no mystery that limelight-creatives, as well as those talented individuals that share their gifts behind the scenes, can both struggle with ego drama. We encourage saving that kind of drama for your mama, because we have a hard enough time with the regular tasks at hand. 

At The Acting Gallery, we check our inflated ego at the door right next to our coats, and when a scene requires it, we know where we left it. We support the idea that we are only as good as we are willing to fall on our faces, so we go for it- always. 

We have found that some creatives come into the arena of acting with prior class experience, Community Theatre involvement, on stage/set exposure, film work, -you name it. 

Some of their previous experiences will be helpful, and some of them, well…not so much. 

Ex: A person with a propensity to grimace and contort their face while playing “emotional”, (because someone once told them that it was a believable physical gesture when crying,) may have a difficult time letting it go for real sensory work. Retraining an actor that has been taught to come in on the cue by a teacher who was extremely passionate about cue and pace,  may take an undetermined amount of time to relearn timing. We teach ways to create space in your work; spaces which a character will then “fill in” with their life. Some habits are extremely difficult to break, and others will fall away with a replacement task. It’s as simple as that. 

This type of work, works. It’s no nonsense, while being all nonsense.

If that makes ANY sense. We PLAY and we learn. We sweat and we cry. We struggle and we let go. Although many creatives may come to us with wonderful past acting experience, we ask our students to begin classes like a clean white wall just waiting for paint. 

Creative People are Weird

January 17, 2019

Open hearts and minds are the fertile grounds from which all limitless creativity springs. I remember reading somewhere about “contempt prior to investigation” as it pertained to having a limited view on spiritual growth, but man, creativity has got to be one of the most bizarre processes there is. 

Of course I’m exaggerating, but c’mon!

It can be pretty “out there”. I mean, most processes are pretty interesting if you’re the curious type but let’s just keep it real. Creativity is a really weird process, that attracts weird people. Yes, I’m aware that people are weird, and I’m also VERY aware that I too, am a “people”. Art is never truly finished, it’s just abandoned. Now, that smashed home hard for me. The amount of pain that Art has caused me has been big, but the amount of healing that it has blessed me with is bigger. More than likely, if you’re reading this you have some level of interest in the craft of acting, and for that I am truly sorry. 

I mean yaaay!!! That’s so amazing. Open your hearts and minds and let’s do the damn thing! These rants are always going to be filled with sarcasm and shenanigans. Just keep that in mind if you choose to revisit. Back to the regularly scheduled -whatever I was doing here..Artists, musicians, and actors are more often than not, eccentrics, and for the most part, this is a universal truth. With this in mind: Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, please keep in mind that synonyms of this very cute and very often misunderstood word (eccentric) are the following: abnormal, bizarre, crazy, erratic, flaky, freakish, funky,.. you see where I’m going with this yeah? 

I list these things out, only to bring awareness to them as qualities of the chosen few, in a world where they are sometimes classified as peculiar and misunderstood. I ask for your forgiveness. Not forgiveness for something that I have done, but forgiveness for something you have or haven’t done just yet. If you have yet to forgive yourselves for being different, you may never be able to fully be you, in all your differentness. You will remain living “on the dials” turning down your volume for those that do not understand. Forgive yourselves, for you know not what you’ve done (Or haven’t done) Choose to no longer limit yourselves to what others can handle. Explore! Grow Down! 

In my few times around the creative block I have witnessed many things about how people find their creative groove, and they have been well.. creative to say the least. Over time many are discarded for things of more substance, and recognized as unnecessary. The rub: The individuals that were utilizing them to achieve greatness, would have nothing to tune, had they not leapt in “A” direction to start. Learning of these processes, has almost NEVER been boring. From things an individual might eat prior to creating, to something they need to wear when they’re doin their thing, to something they need to read or hear, we all try to find our way. 

With acting (especially for stage) we not only need to find out how to get there, but we need to figure out how to get there every performance. 

In our work we will very often draw from our senses, as they are strongly attached to memories which are attached to feelings. We will play, we will stretch the instrument as far as it can go, and ask you to attempt to then define those (imaginary) edges and go beyond them. Our approach will always be one that stems from the inside out, allowing space for us to remember that: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in (our) philosophy.” Shakespeare (Hamlet)

This will forever grant us limitless permission and room to grow.

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