Thursday, July 20, 2006

PTSD = Out of Body Experiences ≠ Freedom

Oooooooooo, this is a tough week for self-doubt. I'm full of it (though you knew that). If the weather were not so, so beautiful, and I were not dating, and if I didn't have friends who are coming to MY birthday party tomorrow night, and if I were still fat--if any of that stuff and more--I'd be a wreck. I'm letting myself take in the notes on my Banquo for which I asked, and that's been hard, but good for me. I'm not happy with my audition performances this week--three of them, at least--and I did not represent myself as 'professionally' as I would have liked, in a meeting with agents yesterday. But, oh, well. It could be worse. A. Lot. Worse.

Anyways. This week, I'm well served to remember the progress I've made in the last 12-18 months. I'm not quite up to the level I need to be for these auditions, maybe, but a year ago there was NO question that I didn't belong in the room; at least now, I'm in striking distance. One experience I had last year gives me the illusion of being more experienced than I am: my month at Shakespeare & Company--which, I believe, is the one thing on my resume that's getting me these auditions (that, and my head shot.)--but I need to remember that was only the BEGINNING of my work in finding my way to 'staying with myself' on stage.

One prominant theme in the notes on my performance on Macbeth is that, on the one hand, I'm way more "present" on stage than I was a year ago--I have stage presence and I definitely "fill" the stage, as is being said--but, on the other, I'm still not "inviting my audience in;" I'm not yet "allowing [yourself] to seduce the audience" with my own, natural "charisma," with "more David." I think this is exactly true. I still think that the way in and under this is to loosen up my physicality, start moving from the hips and shoulders--find different body centers--and continue to keep my attention gently on the resistance I feel to--the fear I have in--exposing myself on stage; resistance made stronger by a potent PTSD reaction that I still have from surviving intense physical abuse as a kid (e.g., I 'leave my body' quickly when I feel threatened with humiliation, which can happen on a dime... it's a fascinating thing to experience, actually, when I'm atuned enough to be aware of it happening.)

Other people may be seeking 'out of body' experiences. I like to be 'in' my body.

p.s. Another thing I'm struggling with: this blog. During the run of Macbeth, I found that two or three of my cast mates felt confused by it; couldn't understand it's purpose (I've alluded to this in posts below.) I'm wondering if I'm putting too much of myself out there; I think that this blog demonstrates a mode of inquiry into self and art that some readers don't quite grasp. It's easy to mistake for mere confessional. Readers who have more experience with narrative nonfiction--e.g., biographies, personal essays, philosophical confessions--certainly get it, but they're not necessarily in the majority. If too many of my readers--especially those working in Portland theater--don't intuit the ironic distance* between my journalistic, sometimes literary, narrative and me as a person out there on the street, they're apt to fear that the passions--the fears and hopes and personal dramas--I articulate here, are either going to show up on the set, or reveal what's already going on, on the set.... Actually, now that I think about it, this later fear may be well founded. My writing has, indeed, reflected both the suble and not-so-subtle interpersonal dynamics and issues around artistic process that my colleagues experience, as well as I. I may have to trim my sails on this blog a bit, so as not to threaten others, or rather, not to invade their privacy, at least implicity.

*By ironic distance, I mean something like the irony of Shakespearean character action, in which characters are both observing themselves from a cool remove outside their emotions and acting with unfettered passion at the same time, very Pirandello before Pirandello; also, very true about the nature of passion. If passion = emotion + intelligence, then passion, per se, has an ironic quality.


Signore Direttore said...

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

Thomas Jefferson

Anonymous said...

Your tone seems fairly insulting, and you seem to be suggesting that people who take issue with what you're saying just don't get it. Making such assumptions and coming across as arrogant certainly isn't going to do you a lot of favors in a theater community as small as Portland's

David said...

I have NO problem with people "taking issue" with what I say. Nor have I insulted anyone in this post. Your comment re-affirms my intuition that I've erred to far on the side of 'personal revelation' in my posts. I'm talking too much about the inner workings of my own process of learning to become an actor.

The main concern I express in this post is that my reports on my personal process and subjective reactions are too easily blown out of proportion--made bigger and less subtle than they actually are--by my very act of writing them down; by setting them into words. Some of the reactions I've gotten to my blog--often in person--suggest this.

I would think that the string of comments by others that often follow my postings suggest that I'm happy to court disagreement (I could change the settings on blogspot to dissallow comments.) And, sometimes, just making a statement without any kind of rhetorical dithering or throat clearing in the form of qualifiers such as, "in my opinion," makes it come across as "arrogant," when I certainly don't mean it to be.

Perhaps what is arrogant is your slapping me upside the head without telling me who you are. At least, when I put myself out there--with the appearance of arrogance or no--you know who I am. You're arguing with a flesh-and-blood guy. I'm responding to an "anonymous" shadow....

Good Lord. We're all rather sensitive, aren't we?

David said...

A friend made a great observation to me yesterday: that trying to be understood by others and trying to understand myself are probably mutually exclusive goals. I've been trying to do both here. I probably need to take my self-explorations elsewhere and find a more uniformly 'public' voice for what I write here.

suzy said...

I find the content of this particular post, as well as the rancor that follows, an important byproduct to exploration of the psychological, emotional and process-delivery aspects of blog culture.

This is still pretty dang new, this filtering one's exploration, self-doubt, pursuit of craft, etc... through a public and immediate tool. Combined with the need to be diplomatic, politic and community-minded within any given circle of artists while processing publicly is indeed a conundrum.

But, being a somewhat freakish champion of query that begins with self-indictment rather than self-preservation, I think there is a lot to be gained from witnessing the revelatory process of a human being other than oneself.

The dynamic changes though, when the audience becomes part of the story. Back in the olden days, when we wrote of our inner struggles in diaries, we shuddered at the thought of a parent or sibling or the object of our crushes coming upon the "evidence" of our true feelings. That conceit goes right out the window with blogs.

So, I guess the question I'm interested in is: how does the perception of an audience change the way we chronicle our raw, unprocessed lurch through the world?

jason said...

I think if you anonymously post to someone's blog a scathing and virtually threatening critique of that bloggers thoughts and comments then you are a fucking asshole. And that's not going to do you any favors anywhere.

jason maniccia