I want to talk about last night's class, because I had another of those "life equals acting" epiphanies.
The discussion was around being care free in our acting. Studying under Steve has given me a bunch of tools and applications geared toward getting me to be care free when I perform. (And I've touched on some of them before, but you're not going to get them here; get in class with someone of Steve's caliber.)
Anyway, the hard part about practicing to be care free is it puts it on the fore-front of my mind -- "mind" being that cerebral/intellectual killer of acting/being.
Steve doesn't want his students hung up on these tools and techniques (and, to be fair, a lot of these acting process steps are things he's figured out, so he's got a leg up on applying them more organically to his own process), so we've been doing things in class to help us become more care free.
Last night was one of those nights. And it was fun and inspiring, both when I was on stage and when other people were.
And what made my time (and the drive home, and thinking through the night, and this morning before things got all life wonky) especially good was my epiphany just before we finished prepping to go on stage:
I already work to live a care-free life. Acting is part of my life. That means I'm already working to be a care-free actor.I don't mean I'm care free in a dysfunctional, character-disordered, disconnected kind of way. I've very much a planner and an executor, which on the professional side makes me great at doing both strategic and tactical work.
But I don't -- at home or at work -- worry about stuff.
There are a bunch of reasons. From a religious perspective, worry is a sin, it doesn't add any time to my life, today has enough worries of its own, yadda yadda yadda.
From a pragmatic perspective, what's worry going to get me? Honestly, best I can figure is an ulcer. Maybe even a bleeding ulcer. Yippee.
Taken to professional application, what makes me a great manager is I don't worry about managing. I'm ridiculously proactive about management -- personnel, risk, project, customer relationship, business recovery, whatever.
I build out a number of contingencies. I understand the impacts. I know what's allowable, and what's not. I communicate that to everyone. And I don't worry.
I still have tough, aggressive conversations with folks. Stakes are still high. I know I could lose customers, projects, or my job through no fault of my own; I don't worry about that. I worry about what could be my fault. And then when stuff does happen that is my fault (because it will), I take ownership, I fall back on one of my contingencies (fixes) for the situation, and I move one.
I once worked a project where someone walked into my office and said, "If anyone thinks this project is getting done, they're insane."
I sat down with him, we worked through the project, found out the project manager had been miss-representing things, and yep, anyone still wanting the project on the original cost, scope, and schedule was probably certifiable. So I articulated options, scenarios, and new cost, feature, and timeline considerations. And ended up getting negatively tagged and penalized. And I didn't worry (doing the work and and doing the right thing are incredibly freeing activities).
Understand, I work wicked hard at my job and in life. People who know me know I will fill any available time with doing stuff. Productive challenging fun stuff. It's my strength and my weakness.
And while I'm working with high stakes (corporate international mega-million dollars or personal relationship issues), I have fun; I laugh.
I bring a game console in to work for my development team and we blow off steam for a couple of hours (because if you can't spare the couple of hours, your project's already beyond in trouble).
I go catch a move for lunch to get creatively fed and reset and clear my head and be more productive when I hit the office.
But I don't worry.
It pours rain off and on for months on end and I can't get my lawn mowed and my neighborhood association might fine me and I don't worry. I mow my lawn when the chance opens up because I care about my neighbor, and if that chance doesn't open up until after I get a fine, so what? So I couldn't mow my lawn and someone was doing their job or was bored or was on a power trip? Not my issue. Not my worry.
Don't read this wrong -- I haven't "arrived". And there's a balancing acting between not worrying and being character disordered. And there are times when I worry, and have to have self talk (or a close accountability friend) reset me.
Kind of like when I have to get out of my head as an actor.
The main reason I wanted to study as an actor with Steve is I know I'm too careful as a person. I tend to do things right. But until last night, I didn't connect that I don't worry about getting things right.
So, the epiphany for last night was all the "right" stuff in life? Taken care of.
The acting opportunities? Networking with the right folks to get me the gigs I'm passionate about? Already happening. If the opportunities don't happen, it's not my shortcoming.
Auditions? I already know I carry myself professionally, know my lines, have my headshots, know the etiquette. So the audition, the callback, the freaking on-set scene is play time.
Work is done. Nothing to worry about.
And when I say "play time", I don't mean bounce a beach ball inanely for hours at a time. I mean no inhibitions other than what's ingrained and subconscious and I can break loose and do something important.
Last night, I had seven minutes to read a monologue I'd never seen, make some whacked out choices, and go. There was no way for me to memorize perfectly, so that wasn't a worry (though I surprised myself by still getting 80% of it, by not thinking about it).
The monologue was from a drug dealer. I did it with a debilitating stutter on Ts, Ks, and Gs, and a constant nervous bicep-rubbing-the-ear physical tick that nearly gave me rug burn.
Would you buy X from that guy? Maybe not (though I was pretty desperate in my stuttering, spastic plea).
Will you remember that guy who tried to sell you X?
And I wasn't worried about getting it right at all. For that moment, I was a care free actor.