You Better Learn to Play
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Turn life into a game. I overthink things, and went way out of my way to learn some strategy. 33 Strategies of War. 48 Laws of Power. The rest of those books and many more (I devour authors so if I’ve read one of your books I’ve probably read them all). WRONG KIND OF GAME! It wasn’t fun and I wasn’t really able to apply these strategies in a direct, immediate way. And I wasn’t any more likely to follow through, which is my uh, area for improvement.
So I was reading Steve Chandler and duh, you play like a kid. In the simplest way possible. How you actually used to play. All these things I’m supposed to do daily- the breathing and audition exercises, contacting people and making audacious requests, working out, can all start to feel like “shoulds” and overwhelm. But when I apply KID PLAY they fly by. Mobility, Alexander Technique movement, the game of shoulders, or leg day or ab day or whatever is all the “running around” kid stuff. I use markers or gel pens to “color” (track) who I contact, and maintain the sense of fun thru ought the task. Maybe I could make one of those big Sherlock peg board with the string connecting all the folks, but unfortunately that’s too damn creepy. Reading is “nap time”. I don’t actually fall asleep, but it reminds me of nap time when they’d give me a book and all the other kids would sleep. The rest of it is pure improv, and an opportunity to mix in as much song and dance as possible. Anyone wanna come over? I’m having a play workday.
Stay still and open, and you can receive creative inspiration from anywhere.
Two techniques to turning your life around, from my fave authors.
Steve Chandler is a total boss who’s books can fix probably anyone’s life. He made me realize we have the ability to create whatever we choose by living with a creative spirit, which makes life way better. This runs counter to a tendency to react to whatever the day throws at you. By familiarizing the feeling of both poles, you can assess what mode you’re in and switch. But there’s more…
I don’t expect everyone to look up Graham Dixon because it’s niche actor stuff, but he says that creation begins with receiving. There is an art to honing the receptive senses and using that minuscule impetus to act. Patricia Madsen says something very similar in Improv Wisdom. its very accessible to everyone including actors. Start anywhere. A word, a wish, a question, a whisper can lead to infinite possibilities.
Receive and create. Sounds like a saying on a tea bag.
Connecting Verb Action and Neuroscience in Acting
Personalities are complex and confusing while verbs are direct- containing movement and intent. They are what acting is all about. Can being a verb instead of a personality make us more effective people and our characters more effective characters? Psychology shows ‘I am’ statements to be powerful constructs that help us shape our idea of ourselves, and can also inhibit what we think we can do. If we decide we are verbs instead, our personalities constructed of nouns can no longer limit us.
I tried this out by embodying different action verbs on a piece. Instead of finding a verb for the personality of the character to use, I became the verb in that moment. I am fight. I am annoy. I am deflect. It doesn’t make complete grammatical sense, but I notice a feeling of ownership in the definition, and a lot of the ‘trying’ to do the action falls away. It forms a more direct link to what needs to be done and the spirit it needs to be done in. When we are effective, we become who we need to be to win the day. Can’t our characters also shed some of their self definition in favor of a strong being choice?
The 6th Sense of Wellness.
Someone who has movement or exercise background check me on this.
I have a very new thought. I have written about this upward reaching body tendency that is indicative of alignment, ease and poise. I adopted this “up” habit mentally when I realized I was harboring a lot of inward-sucking downward pulling tension in the body that could be responsible for back and joint pain. I had this new habit reinforced through a Rolf practitioner who I believe freed things up to expand outward and upward, and then through an Alexander instructor who helped me inhibit this fluidly moving body in daily life.
It just dawned on me that this up sense is as vital to our physical well-being as coordination and balance. I was always athletic and naturally coordinated while having excess tension, which leads me to believe it is a separate skill from those above. Simple as it seems, upness is never mentioned in fitness books and lack of it leads to unawareness and poor posture and neck crunching, etc. As a former personal trainer, traditional components of fitness include stuff like aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, power, agility, flexibility, balance, coordination, speed. This extra component if you will- lack of tension, openness and lightness on one’s feet would be hard to detect instrumentally but is indicative of how the system is functioning holistically, which may include the most important measurement of all: How do you feel?
Have faith in what will get you there.
I used to study the way of getting there, to the place of success. Everyone sees and shares the many impediments there are, with luck being the best way past them. That is not a world of possibilities. The beginner’s mind must reign again in me and establish a new way. With every spaghetti action, a world of pastabilities.
I reformed my audition mindset and that was awesome. I finally saw that it didn’t matter. I didn’t need this job and it wasn't going to radically change anything. All they wanted to see was a person really living in the situation. I had to surrender to the whole process, and enjoy surrendering. To give up on being liked, getting it right, looking right feels so good and freeing. I'm gonna enjoy this for the long ride now.
I'm replicated this process with fitness. When it became a slog I stepped completely back to where I could think “it feels good to move.” It feels so good to move now that I'm always taking a break to do it; curious about what I can do. (I think there should be an Alexander Technique certification for fitness instructors to teach Alexander movement as it pertains to fitness, preferably in a group exercise setting. That’s a goal for another day)
I've melded this mindset to character creation. Boom. I'm in it. I don't get tense in front of the camera. It doesn't make sense to. What a small bit of awareness it takes to realize you're doing something and reframe the habit.
Mission statement: it’s possible for women to be leading ladies, heroes, warriors or anything without having to try to be sexy. That’s what I stand for. That’s what I want to show people. That’s what I’m shameless about. Lets redefine sexy. To me sexy is…
I love a sensitive badass who dont take no shit but cares tenderly for her bonsai.
Value is sexy. Give them value, ladies.
Becoming Unblocked and Just Being
No matter what role you go in for or who is trying to hire you (that’s the mindset to have- they are trying to hire you) all you have to do it show your natural being self. This involves becoming unblocked. Its opening. Its coming back to the body and freeing it. This way of becoming isn’t something you decide all at once to do or occasionally, but is a way of life that is like jumping into a river that carries you along. Embrace the fact that resistance is futile, and while you may not like what is happening, it is happening. Not resisting life frees up all your energy to live it. I approach this practice from every angle in order to master it because I started out terribly. Every bit of me resisted. I felt tense around people and resisted letting them in. I had a barely perceptible amount of physical tension in the body that threw things out of whack enough to put me in constant pain. I had to relearn to be free, to think up, to move with ease. I’m still learning. I found that it is mostly a mindset that is determined to be upward, embodying ease and poise. Here’s a small description of that mindset:
(inspired by Michael Chekhov’s movement work)
Ease and attention (because concentration sounds too tense). Your attention is always on something, so you're always succeeding at paying attention in some way. Pay attention to your attention and you can steer your intentions. Sorry for writing the worst sentence ever. Even I hate it.
Be uncomfortable. Its the old skin shedding away leaving you exposed and vulnerable. Find a way to get there and engage it. Be gentle with yourself and open. A new spirit is coaxed out.
Life isn’t a grind. It's a privilege.
Something happened in the last few weeks. maybe it was all the Steve Chandler I read or maybe it was losing most of my little career the space of a week. When I couldn’t do the things I was doing anymore because I wasn’t hired to do them I was free to do what I wanted. I had lots of space to dig deep and explore exactly what it was I felt like putting into the world. I don't have to do anything. I get to do this. So I might as well make everything into doing what I want. It freed me from my drive. I was being driven by desire, which quickly turns into fear by the way. It was like I wasn't steering. I've now regained an ability to remember all the choices I have and consciously steer my life myself. I stopped caring what people think. I’m still vulnerable, sensitive even but I remember deep down nothing has the power to hurt me without my saying so. Besides, there hasn’t been anything I couldn’t overcome. I’m still here, hi world. Succeed or fail, life goes on. So it doesn’t even matter whether I won as long as I played how I wanted to play. That’s success to me. I do what I can with what I have. That’s the spirit of ownership. That’s Emerson shit. When you have confidence to do what is right by you and others, you don't need to worry.
Experiment. Express. Play. Publish.
I think of performing as opening up to mean something, and dropping as much of the pretending as possible. It may ironically take you through a journey of dropping the pride so that you can pretend as much as you want. There is a process of not quite performing but more being, and then capturing any truthful or fun moments so you can pull drama out. That is all.
Be more of you.