I had my first rehearsal for the film "The Trouble with Anne," (formally "Winter") yesterday. I'm frustrated by how frigg'n difficult acting can be. I did my script analysis, found meaningful parallels from my own life on which to draw, and tried to stay open to my scene partner. But, none of this was enough to erase my simple fear. Fear of what is hard to say; certainly, I fear exposing myself, revealing my lack of talent, not being smart enough, not being Robert Duvall, not pleasing my director, not doing the right thing with my life, etcetera and so forth, ad nauseum. So, my fear made my rehearsal stiff and often rudderless, and I could not stay connected to my preparation.
The most useful thing we did was improv. Fortunately, my scene partner doesn't hesitate to jump into improv, when I initiate it, often by giving her a line that expresses the subtext directly, from which we then drop into the dramatic situation and work our way into the lines of the script. Our director, Nick Hagen, did say that our improvisation broke in our subsequent run-throughs, giving them greater focus and ease, but Tara and I both kept going 'in and out' of the moment, which an actor can get away with (some) on stage, stometimes, but never on film. Now, as a stop-gap measure, improv is great, but it seems more inefficient in a rehearsal for film than it does for theater; at least, it seems inefficient to do with a director. Before our next--and final--rehearsal with Nick, Tara and I are going to have a rehearsal without anyone else, in which we improv a lot and help each other identify the spots in which we are 'not believing' in our circumstances and dropping out. When we identify them, we can help each other find the material in our own lives--through 'as if' scenarios--that perhaps are difficult for us to do on our own, primarily because of fear.
One element of preparing for either a rehearsal or performance is physical warm-ups, through which an actor can ground himself--get into his body--and find focus. Now, that I didn't do, before yesterday's rehearsal. Why? At the moment, I'm not experiencing the physical shakes and tremors I was accustommed to suffering, until recently. Because my fear hasn't been expressing itself so physically, I've not felt any urgency about doing physical warm-ups. Yesterday's rehearsal reveals this as a mistake.
At present, what I most want to be able to do is allow myself to feel emotions strongly, which is frightening and tiring to do (a lot of what actors mean by "stamina" seems to be the ability to staying with deep emotions into which they must tap.) In yesterday's rehearsal, I often found myself responding to Nick's notes by thinking, "yes, of course, I get that, that's what I've prepared to do." But, I felt unable to 'let go,' as they would say.
'Letting Go' has been what the last couple of years have been about for me, in my life as a whole, as I take my last stand, at mid-life, in defense of my dreams, before I allow them to dissolve like rice paper into the seas of the quotidian. Perhaps this is what the entire second half of my life is about. Perhaps this is inevitable, as it may take getting into one's forties to have toughened up enough to feel as frail as 'letting go' requires. At least for me.