I am back in San Francisco.

The last week was filled with a lot of activity.  You may have noticed that I haven’t been updating my blog as much, because, honestly, there was no time while I was gone.

The final day of the workshop was scene day, and 22 scenes were performed. Amazing work from everyone, particularly from my kick-ass scene partner, Ayla Stephen. The long path to getting the scene up was informed by work with many faculty members.  They all infused us with actions, status, relationship…what better way to work.   Along the way, I realized that I had to learn to trust everything I was being given.  There are things that will work and things that don’t work, but in the end, this is an environment in which to explore to no end.

Here’s my stumbling block:  I’m usually pretty good at beating myself up when it comes to self-judgement, and this scene had all the makings of a classic-Scott-beats-himself-up-because-he-thinks-he’s-no-good theme. Where does this judgement come from?

Lets start with growing up. Lets start with the kids who taunted and bullied me to no end. Lets start with learning at an early age how to self-censor and conform to others’ feelings about myself. I was hugely aware, growing up, and super-sensitive, to other people’s opinions. It affected me daily; there was never a day where I wasn’t pushed, shoved, yelled at, intimidated, and made to feel ashamed about who I was. I learned to cover-up, to be quiet; to not let others know I was ‘there’ – in the sense that, if I gave myself away, I opened myself up to others ridicule.

Over the years, I’ve felt that I’d been able to move beyond this.  Every now and then, these reminders would come back to me. It’s especially noticeable in group situations, where I will observe myself becoming introverted and quiet. I’m not surprised that I observed this in myself, during the workshop. In huge group situations, I tend to get quiet and barely make a peep. Someone (or myself, mostly) has to work extra hard to get me to open up and be present. And so it was with many days where I fought constantly to stay present and stay connected. This started to reveal itself in my scene work, and it became a stumbling block that I had to work really hard to get through.

Richard III

Myself and Ayla Stephen in a scene from Richard III.

Now, without falling into a deep discussion, I will say that I had to go thorough some rough days. So did everyone else, but that was my process for the month. I began to learn how to undo certain habits, and it will take time. Things like posture, alignment, mannerisms – things that lessen me as a human being and individual. The great challenge now will be keep teaching my body and my voice how to undo what years of tension and stress have done.

In the end, we got up onstage, did our scene, and I was alive.  It was so wonderful to just go and do the work, and not think, but let Shakespeare’s text inform ME.  And in the end, it felt fantastic.  And I didn’t beat myself up, nor judge everything harshly.  That was the greatest feeling in the world, and a huge win in my development.  I couldn’t have asked for a better scene partner to work with.

So what next? I’ve reconnected with faculty and mentors at Shakespeare & Company. I’ve met actors and made new friends from all over the country and the world. I’ve been inspired to no end by the astounding amount of talent and knowledge my new friends brought with them.

The pieces are in place for significant change.

Being home again is quite surreal, as I’m still wired to east coast time.  I still long for my daily physical awareness; Linklater voice work; movement.. and a healthy regimen of text analysis, actor/audience relationship, lectures, discussions, dance, fight, CLOWN! – it was all-immersive.

I carry all of this with me and now I’m reminded of sitting in a West Village bar, late at night, with Tina Packer, having a glass of wine, after a preview of Women of Will:

Me:  (I’ve just shared some significant details of my life with her) – So…(I say)…

Tina:  There’s a play in there.  You need to write it out.

Me:  (Shaking) Yes, yes yes….

Tina:  You understand me?  There is something in you that you need to put out there.  You need to write it down, get it together, and get it out there and share it.  It’s in you.  You can do it.

Me:  I will. I will.

Here I go…

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