Life Ain't a Rehearsal, Part Deux - Love the Process!

Oh, hi!  

On the last compelling instalment of Now Don’t Judge, I started rambling on about Objectives I gave myself recently while I was preparing for rehearsals for a show I was directing...the first objective was to Establish My Intention.  You’re in luck, ‘cause I’m just about to unveil my next objective!  *drumroll*

Objective #2:  Love the Process

We talk a lot, down in Actorville proper, about respecting one’s “process”.  Apparently, every actor has a process, and it seems to be of some value, as it must be respected.  And I am, quite frankly, for it! I quite enjoy the challenge of discerning each actor’s “process” and figuring out how to communicate with it.  But what do we mean by “process”? I mean, I know what it means in regard to Kraft cheese slices (actually, I prefer to keep that a mystery, DON’T TELL ME), but how does it apply to acting?

Well, every actor has their own way of creeping up on the “truth” of what they’re doing.  Some of the process involves absorbing the script, absorbing ideas about the character being played, absorbing what the other actors are giving (or not giving) them, absorbing what they’re physically doing on their feet, and absorbing the director’s 2 cents about everything (in theory).  The ultimate goal of all that glorious absorption is to arrive “in the moment” (which I think I’ll save for another blog of its own...which I’m pretty sure is the name of a song I should write soon - “A blog of its own”). Being “in the moment”, is when acting feels most truthful and real.  In my experience, a lot of the process involves getting out of your own way, and having faith that the process will help you arrive at the desired destination.  The fully-realized result may not always happen, but the chase of the elusive “truth” is a confounding and  intoxicating pursuit for most actors. The pursuit seems, to most sensible people (ie. not actors), to be hopelessly self-indulgent, and decidedly impractical in worldly terms, yet absolutely fascinating all the same.  But, for jiminy’s sake, why does it fascinate us so??

Well, I suspect, for one thing, that this process actually reflects the process of our daily lives on this swanky planet of ours!  We all “absorb the script” (things that seem to be happening to us); we “absorb ideas about the character we’re playing” (ie. the public persona we’ve created to bravely face the world as we muddle along, not knowing what the hell we’re doing);  we “absorb what the other actors are giving (or not giving) us” (friends, coworkers, people on the bus, schnauzers, etc.); we “absorb what we’re physically doing” (ie. all the worldly stuff - for me it would mostly entail eating corn chips and watching reruns of Newhart); and we “absorb the director’s 2 cents” (ie. taking notes from either our ego selves or our higher selves, depending on the day or on our many moods).

I believe we also generally find the notion of “process”, in the artistic sense, a bit mysterious; which is alluring and sexy to some and bile-inducing to others.  Having a process is an act of faith - I know what my goal is (see Objective 1: Establish Your Intention) and now I’m going to let the wheels whir, and the spark plugs spark, and the circuits go boop boop beep boop (please see figure 36A - computer from 1963) and somehow out from the chute will pop a fully-realized performance, like magic! There’s a bit of a leap that happens there, because we don’t really know exactly (aside from a little elbow grease, obviously, which helps) HOW we get to the other side of that gator-infested moat...but somewhere along the line a drawbridge lowers, and we come to in the castle with a fatty-food-and-mead-hangover and a pesky case of gout. But happy to get there!

You have to trust the process.  And after you go through the process many times, you  develop that trust. I never would have taken up roller skating as a young person if I didn’t have faith that one day I’d be able to circle the rink confidently to Celebration by Kool and the Gang.  And I was right! With trust comes the faith required to know that your process will come through for you exactly as it should.  If you have no faith in the outcome of your process, you will become wracked with worry about what will (or won’t) happen in the future, which will prevent you from working at capacity in the present.  Like me when I announce I’m only going to eat from the salad bar at the 2-block long buffet at The Mandarin, you sabotage yourself. You get in your own way. (unlike at The Mandarin, where other people get in my way)

And when you get in your own way, you judge yourself for it, which is painful.  Which leads to emotionally curling up into a ball like an armadillo, which is adorable when you’re an armadillo, but less so when you’re trying to get stuff done on a deadline.

That’s why my second objective for rehearsals was to Love the Process.  Which includes loving MY process.  But, once I established my intention, I had to have faith in the process, knowing it would unfold as I trusted it would.  And it did! **cue Celebration by Kool and the Gang, lace up skates**  See, it’s samesies for actors and directors! (AND FOR EVERYONE ELSE NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO... SSHHHHH DON’T TELL ANYONE IT’S A SECRET `...NO WAIT CANCEL THAT  IT’S NOT A SECRET TELL EVERYONE)

So I’ve discovered that it’s important for me, when I’m in bossy-boots director mode, to commit to not only understanding, but loving an actor’s process...because it’s the process that’s ultimately going to cook that bird (or tofurkey, if you’re veggie; or carrot, if you only consume raw food, which you wouldn’t cook, obviously, I mean I’M NOT STUPID) all the way to a golden, honest-and-fully-invested-in-the-moment brown!  So if I make it MY process to embrace the ACTOR’s process, then we just might not end up resenting each other for interfering in each other’s processes! Does that make sense to anybody? Hope springs eternal!

Showbiz aside (*Hollywood gasps*), we ALL have a process!  In truth, we are all in process, really.  Constantly changing, constantly creating our beautiful lives, from day to day, moment to moment.  Allowing for another’s process (ie. don’t judge their process), and trusting in your own (ie. don’t judge your own process, either), takes a lot of stress out!  And when you are embarking on a project in your life, set your intention, and trust the process! And by “project”, I mean “getting out of bed in the morning”! That’s my kind of project!!  What kind of day would like to have? Decide on it while you’re eating your Weetabix and raisin toast, and let it happen! Take a leap of faith and choose to have a fabulous day!! You deserve it, don’t you think?!!!!  I do!! But then, I’m partial to literally ALL OF YOU. No, YOU stop!!!

Next Rehearsal Objective:  Commitment

I will pine for you ‘til then!! ♥

J. Sean ElliottComment