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.
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.
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.
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.