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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Woman & Scarecrow ~or~ "I wish I wasn't in this play."

So, let me qualify the title of this post before we go any further.

Every once in a great while actors have the distinct privilege of being a small part of an amazing piece of theatre. On those occasions where I happen to be in that position, I say to myself, "Man, I wish I wasn't in this play." I say that because I desperately want to see the production in its experience it as an audience would. To be moved by it, rather than being a part of what moves it. That is, of course, a testament to great writing, wonderful production ideas and execution, sensitivity to process, and keen and thoughtful acting.

I am aware, too, that it’s a selfish thing to say and I hope it isn't misconstrued as a means of alluding to some augustness concerning my small part in the play.

More to the truth, it is a statement born from intense desire to have the soul stirred on some deep level.

But it is also (if I’m going to be completely honest) a statement born in a small way out of fear.

When something, anything, is worthy of your full attention, mindfulness, and care...can you rise to meet it? Do you have the ability to turn off (or at least tone down) the inner critic that says, "You can't, you can't, you can't. It isn't safe to be open and vulnerable." And that’s a constant struggle no matter who you are or what you do. I try my best to laugh at that part of put on boxing gloves and challenge it in the ring, when I have the distract it with something shiny when I don't. And sometimes there is success and other times there are utter failures and complete breakdowns. When those breakdowns manifest in a process (and they always manifest) being in the wrong company can be devastating to an actor’s journey.

Fortunately in this instance, in Woman & Scarecrow, I am surrounded with wonderful, adventurous, and supportive people; in particular my cast mates. So, I'd like to talk about them for a moment.

I’ll be upfront about it…this play is scary. Scary in terms of the piece demanding sensitivity and an openness that only comes at great personal cost. It can be a terrifying place to live. It’s draining. Raw. Fragile. Points to the heart of individual sufferings. And asks for incredible trust and courage. My cast mates are willing to live in that emotionally expensive place night after night and I’m in awe of that, really. They don’t pull punches and they’re tenacious practitioners who attack this play. The exploration in the room is an amazing thing to be a part of and I’m very excited for people to come and see the nuance that these women breath into their roles. The work is phenomenal.

Last night I was re-reading Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, and I came across this quote, which reminded me of something Fr. David said when we started rehearsals:

“To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn that the only voice you need is the voice you already have. “

Folks...get ready to be sung to.

~Ahren Potratz (Him) first year Graduate Acting Scholar

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