I just spent the most peaceful and awe-inspiring weekend with Shakespeare & Company. I gave myself that gift of taking their Month-Long Intensive back in 1999, by packing everything up and heading east to Lenox, MA, without knowing anything of what I would be getting myself into. What I learned about myself at the time is that I have incredible power as an actor; I have incredible range, and I bring a humanity to my acting, that I had been looking to unlock. Their work demands extreme commitment to the breath; text; movement; emotional connection, openness, and fearlessness. When I took that workshop, I became less about being afeared while onstage, and more about being truthful, revealing myself as I had never before.
So, over the last three years, I have attended the Weekend Intensive in LA and SF with Dennis Krausnick – one of the founding members of the company. I consider him a mentor and inspiration. The people I met this weekend, and the bravery in the work that I witnessed – took my breath away. And I took much more away from this Weekend than I had in previous ones. I really planned for this weekend too. I went as for much comfort as I could, while promising myself to work truthfully. I think I had small victories and little failures; but I think the overall lesson of the weekend (and one that I’ve been reminded of before) – is that I will often beat myself up mercilessly. And without knowing I do it – sometimes. It’s a familiar pattern when it comes to my acting. But now, I know that I have to punch through the all the emotion and the shit, and let myself be open to anything, while at the same time, realizing that it’s another step in my evolution. I have to work with that inner critic that tells me I’m no good, and wrestle that critic to the ground and drown out it’s noise. Maybe even learn to be friends with it.
What’s next in terms of my relationship to Shakespeare & Company? Well for one, I’d like to see Dennis in his performance as King Lear this summer. I’d like to try to attend another Month-Long Intensive in January 2013. I’ll work as hard as I can to get to both. But it will be a lot of work. With a huge payoff. Now all I have to do is breathe and take everyone and everything in, and return to a way of acting that is the best: truthful, simple, and earth-shattering. With a voice that reaches to the stars.
There’s a line from King Lear, that ends the play. And it’s a quote I’ve often seen used at Shakespeare & Company, and I think it rings true for me everyday. And I try to live by this snippet of text now:
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say