When I played Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, I found myself becoming more Felix.
I don't mean to claim that I'm some sort of method actor. That's too big a claim for a guy who can still claim to be an aspiring actor.
Mark Berman (the BUGMAN) asks, "When does one stop claiming to be aspiring?"
Never, in my opinion. I learned this from Kathy Sullivan, who is still learning how to fly that airplane.
Method actors or not, when we are forced to memorize lines and rehearse for a month as someone with a variety of issues — marital, obsessive compulsive, despondency — we certainly start to become Felix.
Mrs. Isaac agreed. During the final week of rehearsal, she validated my transformation: "You really are just like Felix," she complimented me. "Except you don't cook or clean." Ouch.
The lesson: choose roles wisely, for the actor takes on — temporarily, at least — the attributes of the character.
The Roles In Life
This is true for more than aspiring actors. This is true for all of us playing roles in business, in community, in life. The role becomes you. Is the role becoming to you?
Gandhi taught (as I learned from Michael Burton at Columbus School for Girls):
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
As actors on stage and in life, we can boil this down: Your role becomes your destiny.
Might as well pick the next role carefully.
So, asking Matt Slaybaugh to let me be Atticus Finch was easy.
Atticus is ethical, moral, courtly, parental, and — when portrayed by Gregory Peck — handsome as a GQ model.
Well, I'm delighted to pretend to be ethical, moral, courtly and parental. And I do think that Mr. Peck was a great choice for Atticus decades ago. But, wait a minute: isn't the role more interesting if Atticus is vulnerable, if he might lose more than his court case?
Casting Peck in the role was a Hollywood decision appropriate for the era. Today? William H. Macy, or some actor who might fail in every way.
I told my kids that vulnerability is well within my acting range. They snorted.
Like what you're reading? Here's a later post on the ugly language in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Want To Join Me On Stage?
Oh, finally, this is the purpose of this post.
It would be wonderful if you would audition for a role in this coming June's community performances of To Kill A Mockingbird.
Please come. This is your invitation to audition.
And please tell your friends. There are many roles, large to small, for a variety of ages. We especially need black actors, again for roles large to small.
Here are the details:
OPEN CALL: Friday, January 29, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. (show-up anytime)
OPEN CALL: Saturday, January 30, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. (show-up anytime)
CALLBACKS: Sunday, January 31, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. (by invitation only)
Location: the Vern Riffe Center - Enter on State Street, go to the third floor and you'll be escorted to the audition room.
Performances June 24-27, 2010. Most rehearsals will be in the evening, Sundays-Thursdays, beginning in May.
This is an independent, community theatre production and a fundraiser for Available Light Theatre. Actors will not be paid.
REQUIRED: One monologue, two minutes or less, prepared material preferred; cold readings will be available for those who need them.
CALLBACKS: If you are called back, you will be notified by email by 11 a.m. on Sunday, January 31 and asked to attend a callback session from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. that day.
For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't think about this.
Just audition. If you are first-timer, the audition will be a fascinating, rewarding experience. Working with Ian Short, even during a brief audition, is an honor.