I’ve been thinking a lot this week about acting. And what it means to be an actor. And how one lives one’s life when that life is not necessarily normal.
When I was a teacher, it was fairly simple. I would get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, have dinner, watch some TV, and go to bed. Rinse and repeat. I had a specific time that I had to be at the school (8:30? I think?), and I had specific tasks I had to complete before I could go home for the day. My day was sectioned out between staff meetings, a planning period, classes, and rehearsal. It was really simple to prioritize and schedule my work, because I knew exactly when I needed to have specific things finished.
As an actor, you do the best you can. I have gotten up early (ish) every day, and started the day with some coffee, and taking Monroe to the park. He LOVES the park, and since dogs are allowed off-leash before 9:00 AM, it’s a great way to let him get some exercise, and be content to sit quietly at home for the rest of the morning, while I get some work done.
When I get back to the apartment, I usually check my email, and submit to projects via Backstage and Actors Access. Basically, I’m taking care of the business side of things in the morning, when my coffee is still effective. After a lunch break, I then go into what I like to call “Craft Work.” This includes things like completing my homework for my Shakespeare class, rehearsing scenes and monologues, and research into character and scene study.
None of the things I listed above necessarily have due dates or deadlines – with the exception of my Shakespeare homework – but they all will help me to keep my skills sharp so that I can pull them out as I need to for auditions and rehearsals. So, in order to be sure that I’m actually doing all the things I need to be doing, I plan out my day the night before. This keeps me focused, and allows me to keep better track of what I’m accomplishing, and what I have yet to accomplish.
Today, though, was a different story. I didn’t plan out my day last night. I didn’t take care of the business-side of things this morning. I did, however, have a very productive morning. I took Monroe to the park, as usual, but this time, when we got back to the apartment, I basically turned right around and proceeded to Lincoln Center.
Lincoln Center is home to many Performing Arts ventures, including the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, and the Metropolitan Opera. My favorite building, though, is the Library for the Performing Arts. This library houses just about anything you could ever want to lay your hands on when it comes to the Performing Arts. They have recordings of dance, theatre, and music performances; scripts and librettos; CDs from every genre; reviews dating back to the turn of the 20th century; the list goes on and on!
At the library this morning, I was able to type and print my new speech for my Shakespeare class, read some cursory information about the play I’m auditioning for on Monday, and actually read the original typescript for that same play. It was incredible! I had, in my hands, the original, thin-sheet, typed on a typewriter then bound, 1936 SCRIPT. With notes and edits from the playwright herself!
To be an actor means that you make your own schedule. It means you go to the research library to find that script so you’re ready for your audition. It means you make it a point to go out and see more of the world, because the more you see of it, the more you can relate to the people in it. It means you don’t live a “normal” life. You make your own schedule, your own life, and let THAT be your “normal.”
My life is not ordinary. And sometimes, it’s a little scary. But most of the time, it’s pretty friggin’ sweet.