Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Curse of the “Wanna-Bes” Part 1

“Acting is everybody's favorite second job”

Jack Nicholson

For as long as I can remember whenever I tell somebody what I do, 
five out of ten times that somebody will tell me one of two things -

“ Oh my God! Audition me, I’ve always wanted to be an actor!"


“I used to do plays when I was in school!

Will you hook me up for auditions? I love being on the stage”

 (But do not want to follow through on either demand).

And then I ask my usual question, “ ok but what is it that you do now?”

They answer…

“Oh I am a Lawyer "
“Mother …..”

My response to that is always the same, “ Well, then that’s what you put your time, money and efforts into becoming. If you wanted to be an actor you would’ve done that”.
Now I don’t say that to squash anybody’s long held dream, I say that because I understand that is the curse of our times; what I call “ the curse of the wanna-bes”.
Being known equals success!

“An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words”
~ Sanford Meisner

In my experience as an actor, director and teacher, I find 75% of the so-called “wanna be” some bodies I encounter at work or at auditions or in my workshops are not really interested in the craft of acting or theatre. They are interested in being “known” as “the actor” and far more invested in the perks that come with.

The “ wanna be” exhibits traits that are so easy to spot.
He will show up habitually late, unprepared, having done no research on the script, his role and most of all no work on himself.
He will know what Brad eats for breakfast and how many hours Hrithik puts in to get that six pack but would never have bothered to learn about a Stella Adler, Uta Hagen, Abrar Alvi or Shakespeareana. Much of his attention is focused on being the next big thing and therefore his acting vocabulary is a mélange of ham performances mimicking  Salman’s swagger or SRK’s head shake or lip tremble or both.
He will be obsessed with the size of his biceps yet be blissfully un- aware of his ignorance in all things pertaining to the reality of being a working actor and still expect to be treated as the single most important person in the room.
 The difference between the “ wanna be” and the real performer becomes glaringly obvious.

As an actor that level of ignorance and lack of respect for the job used to infuriate me.
But when in the position of  director or teacher, I was forced to look through more compassionate eyes to find another point of view.
Finding  the root problem which is a lack of self validation was easy enough but what then was the way to heal the dis-connect?

I've found that any form of art can be a conduit to heal, grow and change.
Theatre techniques for example are used to strip the performer of cultural, familial & societal programming, more importantly to break self perceived limitations and work towards becoming as transparent & honest as possible.
 The simplest tools like breath,movement, dance, guided visualizations are used to remove blocks, encourage creativity & cultivate expression. 

So now when I direct a project or while facilitating workshops I pick those theatre exercises that are specifically hold the potential for a deeper connection.

My intention has become to create the opportunity for growth and hold space for those who wish to risk it; and for those who want to remain infected with "the curse " I remind myself to respect their choices.

The challenge &  lesson for me, has been to accept others as they are, where they are and find the place where I can honor their journey.

‘The actor has to develop his body. The actor has to work on his voice. But the most important thing the actor has to work on is his mind”

~ Stella Adler

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