Qualms of a Hyphenate

…Trying to be an Actor-Director before I’m really either. HA! At the beginning of the summer, despite my interest I wasn’t convinced I could ever direct stories for film because I didn’t believe I had a mental storyboard or image-based imagination that could be trained to fit in the confines of a 2-D screen. Having grown up in the theater I am more inclined to think in 3-D and therefore comfortable directing for stage. In the time since, I have come to the exciting realization that the mental storyboard I didn’t believe I possessed is already ingrained in my imagination- I just hadn’t recognized it as such! I see images from different points of view as I read or write or tell stories. There are moments I have out-of-body experiences, capturing them as if by a third eye, watching a scene of life playedout. I believe this is part of the director in me.

Last week in our acting class Marilyn gave me the most poignant and personal critique I’ve ever received: “Chelsea, you’re directing yourself. You have to stop that!” I had never realized that when I fall into the trap of a cleverly memorized performance it is a result of my directorial crafting of the piece. I’m attempting to achieve the character I have envisioned instead of just seeing the character’s circumstances as my own- therefore, being instead of acting. I’m outside watching the performance instead of grounded, living it. I’ve been told, “Chelsea, get out of your head” and now I interpret that as: “Chelsea, stop directing yourself!” My colleague, Brandon Curry, whom I love so dearly and who has a gift of helping me believe in myself even after a sucky performance,  shared his wisdom with me to the effect of: you have to completely let go of how you think the piece should turn out or how a line should be said or how the audience will understand it and just say, “F*** it! And just DO IT!”

I imagine once I can handle the loving seperation of the Director and Actor in me I will be able to do both aspects of the art that I love successfully isolated. It’s just knowing when to give up one and take up the other.

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