Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Dinners with Friends

In the past few days I've broken bread with old friends not seen by me in months or years.  This is one of my priorities whenever I return to Portland or New York City or Seattle or anywhere else I have old acquaintances:  one-on-one dates with stage colleagues, old classmates, former lovers-cum-current friends (I'm pleased to say that a surprisingly large proportion of my break-ups have resulted in enduring, decades-long friendships, though, ahem, my two divorces are glaring exceptions), and just plain friends.  Thankfully, I not only have friends, but I've managed to retain them--or at least, many, or even most, of them (again, I mourn the exceptions... for whom my heart skips a beat when I think of the acrimonies that silenced our ability to hear one another.)  And though I have a large number and wide variety of people in my life whom I consider 'friends'--not merely acquaintances--they tend to share a few traits in common, despite the large range of their interests and life styles.  Actors, directors, designers, photographers, academic philosophers, writers, visual artists, others:  they all have humor, a capacity for empathy, a sense of irony, and--and this is the big one--they are driven by a passion to give external form, of one kind or another, to creative obsessions, of one kind or another.  They tend to possess artistic or spiritual insight and questions that are as essential to their life and humanity as any material needs.  They are driven to their creative endeavors as essentially as we're all driven to find shelter, sex, and ice cream.  I love them for this.

When, in the coming months, I find a way to expand Notes on Acting into a somewhat more comprehensive magazine, one of it's primary goals will be to shed light on the work of my friends and give them voice to talk about, here, the obsessions and deep questions that drive them on.  And perhaps that's the answer to Mead Hunter's question (i.e., how do I make sure that Notes on Acting supports me as an artist rather than distracts me):  create one more space for the artists I love personally and artistically to wrestle with their angels in the company of others, perhaps in a different mode than they usually do.

Over the last three nights in a row I listened to friends speak with passion, clarity, confusion, decisiveness, indecision, courage, and fear about what drives them to work artistically, and I would love nothing more than to continue these, and other conversations like them, in Notes on Acting.

2 comments:

suzy vitello soulé said...

Reading this, I was reminded of a similar conversation I had yesterday with an artist friend. We spoke animatedly of our luxury to be able to spend as much time as we do immersed in possibility as opposed to dodging the bullets fired by the guns of expectation, like those whose days are preordained by a system they are but a tiny pawn in. (I can say this, because I was once an assistant manager of a national pizza chain--the pawniest pawn on the board.)

I've been an entrepreneur/writer for roughly 80% of my productive adult life, and I like to think that I mostly celebrate that good fortune.

Looking forward to further discourse, David. Anon.

David Millstone said...

So many of my artist/performer/writer/thinker friends are ALSO 'pawns of the system,' struggling with serious economic imperatives while ALSO struggling with creative/spiritual imperatives: often, this is why they impress me so. They're struggling to find time, material, venues, and opportunities, and they're often broke; that they are driven to spend time and energy in ways that don't put bread on the table humbles me.