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OpenHeart
2nd of July

Heart Openers


Perfection is a very common trap for any Artist.  I believe that we, as Artists, are born into this world with a clearer sense of perfection from the ‘other side’, and spend our lives trying to re-create that perfection here on earth.  But this plane is imperfect by its very design (except in nature, of course).

Case in point: I had the great privilege of seeing my dear friend, the masterful Mark Nelson, star in the off-Broadway production of “My Name is Asher Lev”, this past week.  There was a young actor, Ari Brand, who did something so revolutionary, so simple and so real . . . that it quite literally took my breath away.  At the start, he walked to the lip of the stage to address the audience.  I’ve seen many actors do this before, but I never saw anyone do what he did. He didn’t speak.  He stood there and looked at us for the longest time, with his heart opened, daring us to open our hearts.  In the presence of this beautifully opened heart, our hearts naturally desired to be open.  From that moment on, he had us.

Why do we not try this in an audition situation?  Instead, we want to be perfect and adored… and as a result… get stuck in our heads. We are there whenever we future-project or wallow in the past.  It is not a very pleasant place to be.

However, when we are in our hearts, we are in the present moment. It may feel happy or sad (or everything in the feeling spectrum) – but always alive and yummy.  The breath is the pathway to the heart.

Think about it. If we ever could create the “perfect” character, by its very definition, he or she wouldn’t be human! Humanity is imperfect and messy and flawed, and thankfully that’s what makes most of us so loveable.  Allow yourself to be imperfect in your work.  Factor into your work the truth that not everyone likes everyone else.  Do you really believe that People Magazine does a survey around the world to come up with its “25 Most Beautiful People” issue?  Some people will adore you, and some will be confused by you.  But if you are lucky, you will have at least revealed something of what it is to be like you.  And that beautiful sense of who you are is not centered in your head, but in your heart.

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Categories:  Blog
17th of May

Reading is fundamental


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There is no such thing as a great ‘dumb’ actor.  The most famous “dumb blonde”, Ms. Marilyn Monroe, was always seen with a book in hand.  And not just any book, but one of the Russians (Tolstoy, Dostoyevskey)!  A good actor knows a little bit about a lot of things.  In this day of reality TV, with instant celebrities that come and go like toilet paper,  a great way to insure longevity is to be well-rounded and intelligent.

Why is reading so important for actors?  Words, and how they are conveyed, are the vehicles of our expression.  They are our paintbrushes, our violins.  Words are the symbols that we use to convey images, stories and feelings (even though what we are conveying is the white part of the page).   If you want to be able to do better at your readings…READ!

Once you understand how writers tell stories, you’re better able to discern the author’s intent with greater  speed and accuracy.

The imaginary leap that we make between our day-to-day physical world reality and the given circumstances of the script become easier to maneuver when you are already doing it daily every time you pick up a book.

While google may be the greatest gift to actors in their ability to understand and research a role – I’m not writing about the mental benefits of reading.  I’m alluding to the way that reading expands your imagination and library of images and senses.

When you read a wonderful novel, you are swept up in the sensory milieu of the character.  To understand a day in the pre(and post)-Civil War South – read “Gone with the Wind” . To fully undersand the psyche and thoughts of a murderer read “Crime and Punishment”. 

We are in the business of understanding and presenting humanity.  The more that you read, the more you see the common thread that runs through all of us.  Though people from the past may look different in pictures and paintings, they were just like us.  Perhaps they dressed differently and had different ideas of hygiene, but they had more in common than we might want to admit.

Plus, if you read for just a few minutes before going to bed (rather than watching TV), you just may find that your dreams more vivid as your imagination has already been accessed.

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