Working as an actor is fascinating to me. Exploring a story’s place on the timeline of history, including politics, religion, socioeconomic and gender issues and how those facts impact human behavior? Incredible. I adore research and diving deep into the heart of characters and situations with other people who like to do the same thing. It’s a dream date.
In theatre, in my experience, you have a minimum of twenty-nine hours, up to over a month to consider all of this information, collaborating with experts, who often have stupendous senses of humor and enjoy going out to lunch. You put it all together with the play, music in various incarnations, add tech and boom. Magic, if you’re lucky.
Yesterday I worked on Grimm, the television show. Working in television or in film is rare for me now, when I was a kid I did it. Now, I’m mostly on stage doing theatre or concerts, and this recent t.v. job put me in mind of my dear dad whose career was predominantly television and film.
Before my call time, at 10:24am, yep, 10:24! I received three versions of the script, each newest incarnation in a whole new color, to keep things straight. I used to love to see those rainbow pages arrive at our front door back in the day. Now they’re delivered by e mail, and their color is left to your imagination.
Upon arrival, inside my trailer, (sure, come by anytime, I’ll be in my trailer!) sat a half page size script with the day’s work laid out.
Of course, actors want to work, myself included, and with each job comes that blessed first day, no matter what medium.
Arrival, on the day, on Grimm, was comparable to the maiden day of school. I was unsure of where to go or how to get there and I felt as though I was constantly looking for the 500 building, and I’d never even had a class near it. I wonder how it was for my dad, I wish I could ask him. He was kinda famous, (would he hate the kinda, or think the kinda was appropriately humble?) I think awe surrounded him. I could sense it. A lot of people trying not to look at him. For me, this week, it was the other way around; no one was looking at me, and I was watching everyone like a hawk. Everyone knew their way around the set, physically, and mentally and I felt like a fish out of water. Acting on film, it’s an intimate art. Quiet and quick. Cat like. Things are examined from all angles. Yet, when it all comes down, you look into the eyes of your fellow actor and go. After all was said and done, literally, it was a gas!
Dad, I wish you were around so that I could compare notes with you. You had an awful lot of first days at school, and geez, you handled them with such aplomb. I’ve said this before, but I used to think that you wanted to take me to work, now I know you just couldn’t get a sitter. All that, and you shined every time.
Truth be told, an actor’s life is a never ending series of awkward, difficult moments. This has finally dawned on me. You compete, sometimes publicly, for your job, then, as a reward, you must flay yourself open, emotionally and physically, day and night, and sometimes even two times on Sunday, for a paying audience. Sounds like Rome and the Coliseum? Yep, that’s it.
Good times. Really. Thanks dad.