Saturday, April 11, 2009

Limits : Working Material

One of the sobering consequences of MFA training is to have discovered the limits of my ability to take training.  I can respond to it productively only to a point, a point which is different for me than it is for my classmates.  Some of my classmates reach their limits before me.  Some of them, after me, and them I envy.  In a blue moment a couple of weeks ago, I told Stephen Jones, a talented and experienced designer in the MFA Design track that I was absorbing the realization that I'd reached my limits, in some ways.  He responded by saying that it's not hitting the limits of one's ability to take training that is important, but how we handle ourselves, when we do.  Do we give up, or break, or make peace with our idea of 'mediocre?'  Or, do we respond to our 'limits' as we do to any other found object or material out of which we make art?  Do we recognize our 'limit' as a boundary or as a shape?  The end of possibility or the beginning?  I see artists respond to their 'limits'--limits of all kinds, in my immediate case, my own perceived inability to get everything from training I could wish--both ways, defeated, on the one hand, sobered and more acutely aware of the materials with which they have to work, on the other.  Perhaps this sounds like common sense, to you.  But, so often I find that truths that have always been right in front my nose to be the most profound discoveries.

Also, this particular realization is one I seem to remake, on a regular basis.  I know I've written of similar epiphanies in other terms.


Signore Direttore said...

It's odd to realize you've peaked; isn't it? Especially sobering when it happens in middle age. ( I am in both denial and hopeful fear that these are indeed my middle years). It's a great accomplishment to reach journeyman status in the arts, yet a dissapointment on at least some level. Few of start out with the dream of getting to the middle. We realize of course that it's a tougher and perhaps more rewarding journey than we thought. And for some us an insufficient end to the Grail we imagined. I find myself in the latter camp these days. Alas, there are no right answers, only our subjective experience. I'm happy for you as you continue to experience all that your journey offers you.

Signore Direttore said...

I do realized you are speaking only of your limits to absorb training. I do not mean to suggest you've peaked as an actor. I trust you will continue to grow, especially given your passionate dedication to acting.
Neither do I think I've peaked as a director or writer. I do feel that I've reached the not so lofty nadir known as burnout as a filmmaker/producer. Journeyman status in Microbudgetwood is absolute purgatory. That's the tricky thing about film - you start out wanting to be one thing and you end up something else. With the best intentions, of course. I know it happens in theater as well.
Anyway, this is probably much too long of a conversation to engage in here.
You've claimed that acting helps you get out of your head and I know what you mean. The MFA training has helped you with that and I truly think moving on will help you even more.