For the last six months, I have primarily been in London studying acting and directing, both for theatre and film & television. While on-the-job training is vital and integral to a performer’s ability, I think there is a certain lethargy and ego that can form from continually working on-camera in the states. One of the most vital things any person, but especially an artist, can do is continually challenge themselves and push outside of their comfort zones or traditional frames of knowledge. We must be careful not to plateau, and that sometimes means choosing the unexpected path.
While I had occasionally worked one-on-one with coaches for performance/dialect/movement, it had been nearly two decades since I had trained acting in a group setting. But that all changed when for the past two years, I began studying contemporary American theatre and drama, something that I always had an interest in but had not afforded myself the opportunity to truly explore. After recently making a pilgrimage to London, I studied Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (culminating in performing a version of The Comedy of Errors), performed a play at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (Astronauts by Alice Birch), and studied on-camera at The Actor’s Studio at Pinewood Studios
My fellow performers and peers came from an incredible mix of cultures and backgrounds, from nationalities like Brazil, China, Sweden, Moldova, Italy, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Morocco, Singapore, Turkey, and many many others besides the UK and USA. Not only did we act together, we danced, sang, meditated, sword-fought, improvised, created, and most importantly trusted. Some of my fellow actors were experienced, many were brand new, ranging from 16 to 60’s in age. But in all of them, I saw an eagerness and childlike nature to learn, to play, to perform and to be vulnerable. And while, I learned so much from our many incredible instructors, I think I learned most of all from the preciousness of expression and of sharing with my fellow actors. In sharing community, knowledge, and support. In doing so, I reevaluated and revised my own techniques. You’re never too experienced to develop and there is no ceiling to knowledge.
Sometimes it was the actors with the least formal experience that surprised me the most. Who asked interesting questions, who approached problems from unique perspectives and found fresh solutions. It was such a wonderful reminder that during this period of the SAG-AFTRA strike, it’s more important than ever to remember and protect our fellow artists. These are dreamers of tremendous passion, who devote their lives, their literal blood-sweat-tears and everything else to telling stories, and absolutely deserve fair pay and protection, and to make a livable wage from their passion. We are all a company of actors, a team that must not only be generous in knowledge and emotional support, but in the practical protection and solidarity of this fellowship.
Mates were made, pints were shared, rugs were cut, good times were had.
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts."