Acting Alive and Awake.
I have been a dabbler of theater and indie films since I learned how to use a camcorder in the late 80’s. I’ve acted, sung, danced, directed, produced plays and short films and music videos.
Once, I’ve written half a musicale with only 12 songs and famous actors of the Philippines performed cameos in it. Creating that musicale commissioned by a political party required that I do some political recruitment along with recruiting artists.
I went from one community to another, signing up actors, dancers, and singers. But it’s a musicale. So I made dancers and singers out of actors; actors and singers out of dancers; and dancers and actors out of singers.
It’s an especially powerful feeling being able to convince people that they can stretch their limits. It’s an especially powerful moment when they are surprised by themselves. And they thank me for bringing out their best.
What I learned over the years through dabbling in theater is that we can choose our reactions to any situation.
Whenever I directed people in scenes, I would never spoon feed them on whether they should be angry or sad or happy.
All I would do is give them motivations like, “You want this to happen because this will benefit you and you can get the girl, but you don’t want him to know.”
Or, “You just came from a high point in your life, you had passed the most difficult exam,” the character then hears bad news.
How the actor makes the character and his reactions is subject to his interpretation.
Director of Gosford Park, Robert Altman, said, “I don’t know what a best director is, except someone who stands in the same space with the best actors, I feel that they do the work and I get to watch. And nothing is better than that.”
We need to direct our own life scripts.
We may have been exposed to too many tragic motivations, “You had a bad childhood, you haven’t gotten over it, now here’s someone who loves you to death… and, action!”
We can ruin any romantic comedy scene with our tragic motivations. There are lives that feel like Seinfeld was played by a bankrupt Nicolas Cage or Tom Hulce or Forest Whitaker on a downer.
We can be on the best of scenes, and yet we can act like we were on a deathbed, dimming with cancer or Alzheimer’s.
There is a way we can motivate ourselves to do make our tragic scenes into scenes reeking with profound irony or teeming with redemptive qualities.
We are the writers of our dailies. We are the editors of our sequence treatments.
We need to find that creativity to ooze with triumph so that the music swells in the end. We need to believe in happy ever after and the feisty nature of the soul being challenged to rise.
Ally McBeal was told by her shrink to find her own them song. And sometimes that’s a good start.