Never missing a cue, my cellphone blaringly buzzes, jolting me awake. At 6:20 am I drag my body out of bed, going through my morning pattern, attempting to revive the functioning human I have convinced myself exists inside.
At 7:15 (or really 7:18, after one flip flop disappears) my roommates and I begin our march to rehearsal. Trey is the speediest and leads the way, Nate trooping behind him, and then I’m left behind, trying to keep my panting down as I casually speed walk down Main Street.
I arrive to the dressing room of Theatre 101 each morning smelling of grass, out of breath, and sweaty. Hot, right? This summer I have the privilege of working on the movement piece Down to Breath, directed by Vince DeGeorge – at 7:30 am. The piece is based on a journal kept by Professor Thomas Gardner called Poverty Creek Journal. Gardner, a runner, bases each journal entry off of his experience of his daily, early morning run. Gardner is able to distill the complexities of his struggles in life and process them through this act of running. The physical act of running provides him with a clarity of his emotional and intellectual turmoil.
As actors we constantly overly intellectualize and complicate what we do as artists. We overthink every moment and every aspect of character. However, for me, our work with Vince is paralleled to Gardner’s running, providing us with a similar clarity.
We wake up early and do our physical practice. It is a pathway of movements over a period of about an hour that allows us to access our impulses. Through our physical work we enable our body to release and to just act, just receive, and just react – no overly intellectual mumbo jumbo involved. We don’t let our own preconceptions of a moment, of our space, or of each other to intervene. The work is very vulnerable, demands concentration, and can only exist when each moment is personal. We are not automatons. We are humans. And we find that simple humanity by physically practicing to release and receive through all of our sensory passages. In this way, we are in the room.
As an actor, when I am really in the room, that is success.
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