Friday, June 22, 2007

Oh my, a meme!

Don Hall hit me with my very first meme yesterday, which was an entirely new concept to me until I realized it's just a chain letter without the threat of bad luck. Well hell, now that there are no fates to tempt, I might as well give 'er a go. (Even if Don turned my last name into a sea demon of some kind in the process!)

Name your area of expertise/interest:
Theatre; namely acting, writing, and directing (in order of experience)

How did you become interested in it?
I was (am?) one of those quiet, observant types when I was young -- the ones who actually want all of the attention, but will only take it on their terms. I suppose theatre at first was a way to turn heads without actually having to open up more than I felt necessary. My high school drama department was on the far side of pitiful (one show per year and all wasted on stuff like Cheaper by the Dozen), so I focused on individual competitive speech, where I had complete artistic control. This is also where my up the punk rebellious streak started to be nutured.

When I got to college, I was amazed at all of the new options (note of hindsight: My college was pretty damn small, but anything would have been freaking huge compared to my home town.), so I leapt into TV and radio production because, hey, I could! I learned the basics of both, got bored and took an Acting 101 class the spring of my sophomore year. By the time the class was through, I had switched over to a theatre major and didn't really turn back.

The summer after my junior year I got an internship at a Shakespeare Festival in Iowa City. This is where I learned what good acting actually looked like. After college I moved to Chicago because no grad programs would take me (note of hindsight: thank god!) and because it was the closest to home of the Big Three (note of hindsight: thank god!). This is where I learned what a show with passionate, talented people across the boards can do and where I am learning what good acting feels like.

Writing was always a project on the side, but I never realized I could actually do anything with it until a Lit and Film class in college where I loosely adapted Poe's "Annabel Lee" into a screenplay set in the afterlife in which a damned soul and an angel fall in love (an idea I haven't completely given up on, but haven't touched in years). My interest in writing as more than a hobby didn't take off until Chicago, where I discovered that realism, contrary to the beliefs of Heartland, America, is not the only solution.

Directing? Shit, I'm still figuring that out. There's a lot of ideas upstairs; some of them can't work on the page.

How did you learn to do it?
That's assuming I've actually learned something at this point. Sometimes it seems like the breadth of my knowledge is so limited that it's actually quite quaint. Which I suppose is a good thing for someone my age (I'm a whopping 24. And you see that open window over there? That's where all my blogosphere credibility just went.), but at the same time, it's daunting as hell.

I'm a real pain in the ass to teach, because the first thing I do is try and find as many solutions as I can other than the one you want to see (oddly enough, I'm the opposite with directors -- I take direction almost to a fault). Even worse, I won't let you know that's what I'm doing, so no one ever calls me on it, because I seem like a perfectly diligent student.

I learn much better from example, and not example for my benefit, but actual life experience example. Watching someone create and discover and work passionately gets me to reflect on how I do all of those things and what the style/technique/method at hand might have to offer my process. It really is just the same old how to succeed advice: I surround myself with people that are better at what they do than I am.

Who has been your biggest influence?
Well, any one of those people that I surround myself with, but they are legion.

Actually, and I always used to avoid this answer because it seemed cliche, but probably my mother, unwittingly. She isn't an artistic person in the least, but I can trace my damn the man leanings right back to her. Live and let live, unless someone encroaches upon that. Then go for the jugular. And if she reads this, she'll deny every bit of it.

What would you teach people about it?
Read what Bob Fisher has to say about young people and experience in his meme. He's right; I'm there right now.

I don't really know that I'm in any position to do any teaching -- but if I'm throwing in my two cents (and I do... a lot): Art is first and foremost for yourself; there's just no pleasing everyone and there's very little to be gained from it anyway.

This is the part where I tell five people to fill this bitch out. Except that I don't necessarily know if five people even check this blog on a regular basis, and I'm not gonna send out "you've been memed" messages. Here's five people who's responses I'd like to see, we'll see if any of them stick: Tony Adams, RebeccaZ (who's got a head start with a great post from a few days ago), and Trevor, Bil, and Devon, all at Tip Your Waiter.

...and GO!


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