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18th of September

Polé, Polé (pronounced po’-lay)




What I bring back from my African trip is a Swahili phrase that I heard over and over – “Polé, Polé (slowly, slowly)”. The biggest overall adjustment that I find myself giving actors is urging them to slow down (while they are talking, not before talking –i.e, going into their heads before responding). When we are not rushing to get through the scene, you actually have to time to savor what is happening – bringing nuance to the proceedings (this doesn’t necessarily apply to sit-coms). Often, it feels like the actor just wants to get through the scene so that he can book the role so he can get through the scene so he can move on to the next one, rinse and repeat.
After the dusty, dry safari of Tanzania; we treated ourselves to a resort in Zanzibar. Upon arrival, we jumped into the bathwater-warm transparent waters by the hotel. The next day we woke up and the tide had pulled out over a mile, leaving where we had been swimming just 8 hours prior – walk-able. After getting our shoes, our guide showed us the sharp coral and thousands of spiky sea urchins lurking everywhere (but no uni on the restaurants menu – drats!), Polé, polé. In order to have our “marine safari”, our guide constantly reminded us “Polé, polé (Slowly, slowly)”. In slowing us down, we were able to see the starfish and sponges, squid and clownfish, clams and crabs swimming in the shallow tide pools at our feet. By taking our time, we had a “walking-snorkel” that I’ll never forget. We arrived at the same place, but had no injuries and another once-in-a-lifetime memory. The gift is in the journey.

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Categories:  Blog
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

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