Acting is a weird profession.
…What other one on the planet requires you to be other people, embrace and empathize with serial killers and monsters, partake in voyeuristic fake sexual activities, and fuck with your mind and emotions on a continual basis as “part of the job?”
Maybe an undercover cop.
That’s about it.
…But what’s even more screwed up, is the fact that this seems perfectly normal to us and aside from a few character-inflicted hangovers, can come and go in any combination or variety, multiply even as needed, simultaneously, and then go cold turkey dormant at the drop of the hat…sure leaving a few mood swings in their wake, but other than that, fairly harmlessly.
…I mean, we do shit on a stage that puts people behind bars for life, sends them into lockdown therapy, demands suicide watch, and lands them on the cover your more unsavory pulp-newspapers and magazines. Pretty much on a continual basis. Then, two hours (or sixteen) later, we go home, pop a beer cap, and eat some pizza, like nothing has happened.
I don’t care who you are, that’s just fucked up.
And we’re, you know, just sorta used to that.
…But every once in a while, it does kinda throw you. You’ll do a role a little too close to home, or something will get into your head a little too deeply, and it becomes more difficult to divorce yourself at the end of the day.
…Sometimes you have that Christopher Reeves-Somewhere-In-Time penny moment, when you become suddenly distracted by the most innocent of things and it rips you out of your happy little acting bubble, realizing that it’s all fake and you are you, and the delicacy of the moment is completely shattered…scrambling helplessly to hold onto the last tail end of this projected truth so you can do the job that people in the seats, right now, staring up at you, are waiting for you to do.
…And sometimes you’re just artistically sideswiped and get the giggles.
There is no cure.
This is the kind of thing where you so suddenly realize the total absurdity of the situation you are in and that this is your life, and this moment needs to happen because people and their jobs and careers are depending on you…which should put enormous amounts of significance on it all, you would think…but doesn’t…because it’s all riding on the right timing of a burp, or how fast you can drop trow, or how much tongue to use in this kiss, or even just delivering a line which has some double meaning to you and your scene partner, and so now neither one can look the other in the eye at all, when it comes time to say it.
…I’ve just hit one.
I am currently sipping coffee, on break from reading a script. It is not a comedy. In fact it is the most far flung from it. I keep expecting with the next page turn that it will invent a new apocalypse, strain of disease, or drug O.D.
…It is a one-woman show, containing several characters undertaken by the single actor. I will not be responsible for the acting portion of said piece, I will be the stage direction usher, for a dear friend, who will be.
…This all comes as part of a gig for one of the Universities, in their writing department. A script writing and development class has come full circle and they have brought in a few professional actors to stage read the shows for the playwrights, so they can take notes on further changes and workshopping needed before launching them out into the world and publisher’s doorsteps.
…There are several scripts and all of the actors split time in role sizes and stage directions, as “cast” by the facilitator of the gig. None of the actors have read the scripts, or know the roles until the final edit has trickled in and been forwarded. Of the four pieces I’m in, this is the only one I’ve received thus far. And it is a masterpiece of definition in being a new work by a new playwright.
What does this mean?
…People are told to write what they know, write what will catch your attention and draw an audience, know the audience you are writing FOR, and/or make a statement or impression that will stay with you.
…Because of this, there are many, many, many plays in this world riding the soap opera wave of personal tragedy with shock-theatre gimmick, attempting to assail you with either a deluge of tears, pissing anger, sexual enticement and/or whatever performance art involving a dude taking a dump on a five-dollar-bill while dressed as a mime, falls under.
Classic new playwrighting syndrome.
…And this particular script has it all.
I seriously can’t keep a straight face while reading.
This poor woman central character is emotionally pushed through so many events in 30 pages, and had so many orgasms while doing it, that it’s like a theatrical version of Rasputin. She’s been hypothetically, stabbed, shot, gutted, run over by a car, a bus, a train, thrown off a plane in flight, survived a couple of world wars and her dog just died.
…I’m only on page 13.
…I had to take a break.
My fucking stomach hurts.
…Now, I’m not intending to be “mean,” this is just one of those instances I was talking about before…when I realize the total absurdity of what we do and how we do it, and what we are asking the audience to do, by trusting and coming on this journey with us…which (literally in this case) is about every sexually erotic and explicit deed and curse word, with every broken down junky personal tragedy you can throw in there, in an explosion of screaming in your face offensive, yet autobiographical who-de-haw, that I’ve read in a long-ass time.
And this Wednesday, I will be it’s narrator.
…At some point I will need to actually face an audience, with my dear friend, and support her, as she undergoes fucking herself, the audience, and the English language all to hell.
…And I need to do it with a straight face.
My job is just cocking weird…is what I’m saying.