Posts Tagged ‘Wisdom’

Words. Words. Words: Actors On Acting

The Theatrical Quotations series continues with 10 world class performers…

“Acting is not about dressing up. Acting is about stripping bare. The whole essence of learning lines is to forget them so you can make them sound like you thought of them that instant.”

Glenda JacksonGlenda Jackson (Born 1936) 

 

“…by the time I got to Michigan I was a stutterer. I couldn’t talk. So my first year of school was my first mute year and then those mute years continued until I got to high school... One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”

James Earl JonesJames Earl Jones (Born 1931

 

“I’m curious about other people. That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.

meryl-streepMeryl Streep  (Born 1949)  

 

“Comedy is all I ever wanted. I can never tell when something is funny… I just have to do it onstage and find out.”

Margaret ChoMargaret Cho (Born 1968)


For an actress to be a success she must have the face of Venus, the brains of Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of Macaulay, the figure of Juno, and the hide of a rhinoceros.”

Ethel BarrymoreEthel Barrymore (1879 – 1959)

 

“I can’t deal with actors! I can’t deal with myself. We’re neurotic and miserable… I love doing what I’m doing, but while I’m doing it, I’m miserable.” 

Viola DavisViola Davis (Born 1965) 

 

“I knew at an early age I wanted to act – acting was always easy for me. Once you’ve gotten the job, there’s nothing to it… Doing it is not the hard part. The hard part is getting to do it.”  

Morgan FreemanMorgan Freeman (Born 1937)

 

“The thing about performance, even if it’s only an illusion, is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities.”

Daniel Day LewisDaniel Day Lewis (Born 1957)

 

“Ossie was working as stage manager and he began making notes. Something about the sense of humor instilled in Eastern European Jewish culture appealed to him. The message was profound but the delivery was hilarious. Through that he saw that humor could turn racism on its ear, too.”

Ruby DeeRuby Dee (Born 1924)

 

 

“An actor is a sculptor who carves in snow.”

Edwin BoothEdwin Booth (1893 – 1933)

 Booth may have borrowed this phrase from his friend Lawrence Barrett.

 

PHOTO CREDITS: Barrymore: University of Kentucky Photographic Collection, Booth: Public Domain, Cho: Jamie McCarthy/Getty, Davis: Michael Beckner/Getty, Day Lewis: Indigo/Getty, Dee: Frederick M. Brown/Getty, Freeman: The Ace Black Blog, Jackson: Courtesy of Glenda Jackson MP, House of Commons, Jones: Stathis Orphanos, Streep: Cathal McNaughton, 
 

Occupational Hazard: REJECTION!

Rejection = A Fact of Life. Rejection in the Theatre = The Daily Reality.

Assuming a high level of talent and skill, the way a theatre professional handles rejection can determine the rate of success or failure in his or her career.

It took me too long to learn that I had a choice as to whether or not I responded personally to rejection. As a young actress in New York in the early 70’s, my fear of being rejected could be paralyzing; on occasion I would actually not show up for an audition. Knowing I didn’t want to sabotage my lifelong dream, and not wanting to piss of my agent any more than necessary, I gritted my teeth and “followed my fear” as if I was in an improv class.

“What do I gain from being terrified?” I asked myself.  It seemed that certain auditions didn’t scare me a bit and I wondered why they were different. After one such (rare) occurrence it struck me that I just didn’t care: the theatre was too far away, I couldn’t stand the director, and I got the offer. In contrast, when I coveted the role or adored the play or longed to work in a particular theatre, my fear of rejection kicked right in. I was afraid I might actually get the job. Bingo! Fear of success.

When I embraced my fear (one of the Six Principles of Theatrical Intelligence) I made friends with it as if we were partners venturing into unknown territory. More offers came my way, and I actually began to enjoy auditioning.

The fact is that there is no foolproof way to win a role in the theatre, or a production if you’re a playwright or a gig if you’re a director.  If my theatrical cohorts and I had known about my friend Mary Cantando’s “Five Approaches to Handling Rejection” back then it would’ve helped!  Of course she hadn’t written them yet – she was in North Carolina, accumulating the expertise to become the growth expert for women entrepreneurs she is today.

Here are Mary’s gems of wisdom:

Where Mary has written “sales call” or “sales meeting”, substitute the word(s) of your choice: interview, play submittal, backers’ audition, pitch, preview… the list goes on.

Just as Rejection = Reality, No Sales = No Career.

Thanks, Mary. Many of us could’ve used your handy tips way back when. Which is exactly why I’m passing them along today.

 

“Remember the Ladies…” and Their Words of Wisdom

On each of the past 52 weekends, I’ve posted one short quote on Twitter. It’s been a sort of ritual I intend to continue. Sometimes abbreviated due to the 140 character limit, these little gems give me an inspirational boost.

I was struck (though not surprised) as I reviewed these words of wisdom today, that most of my favorites come from women. So in the words of the great Abigail Adams, let’s “remember the ladies”!

ADAMS 

Abigail Adams, writing to John Adams in 1776:

”…in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.”

 
 
 
 

“Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.” 
Zora Neale Hurston

“There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.” 
Madeline Albright

“I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” Virginia Woolf
 

 “Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.” Madeleine l’Engle 
 

TWAIN


 

And an honorable MEN-tion:

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain

 

What It’s All About…

This is my daughter Abigail, with her 2-year-old son Gabriel and 6-week-old daughter Lucy. My grandchildren. Was ever a word so apt? Grandchildren. These two little tykes have taught me the most profound lesson in my life-to-date: they are the reason I’m here on this earth.

Cliche? Yes. Over-the-top sentiment? Absolutely. Never did I imagine these hackneyed terms would apply to me! I always thought it would be fun to watch my children if they became parents, however, this generational connection stirring in my soul has caught me by surprise:

  • I find myself whispering words of wisdom into their ears.
  • My inner child (it’s OK to groan here) behaves with utter abandon, yet…
  • My hard-fought-for skills of diplomacy and restraint seem effortless.
  • I have never felt better about forging my own trail on my own terms.
  • I am compelled to continue growing, to be my best self for them.

My twice-daily-ritual, morning and night, is to recall everything I am grateful for. Gabriel and Lucy have given me the gift of a generational lens, through which the love in my life has multiplied a thousandfold. I am so thankful.

And that’s what it’s all about. For me.


Theatrical Intelligence: The Chaos of Collaboration

I’ve spent 40 years working in the theatre industry, experiencing the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” in a hazardous profession that chews people up and spits them out every day.  I’ve reached the age where I can profess wisdom simply because I have survived. This wisdom is based upon the age-old principle of the theatre as a collaborative art form, where people work together effectively, each in a particular niche that they have mastered, and that they love.

When I shifted careers about 20 years ago, transitioning from performer to small business owner within the same industry, my workplace changed from a theatrical environment to a regular old office; a serious place of business. During my first few years I made every effort to create a “corporate business atmosphere” with little success.  No matter how many businesses I observed and business books I read, none of them embodied the kind of workplace I was looking for.

It was during this search that I took a non-theatre business-owner friend of mine to a stop-go tech-dress rehearsal of a Broadway musical. As I had hoped, she was awestruck. We sat in the theatre balcony – quiet as little mice – and she barraged me with questions about who the hundreds of workers were, and what they were actually doing as they hustled and bustled down below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is the woman who leaps onto the stage every few minutes? (The choreographer.)

What is that disembodied voice from above? (The stage manager on the god-mike.)

Why are the actors having trouble walking on the stairs? (The stairs are on an electronic revolve; stagehands are working out the speed.)

Who is in charge? Then she stopped, and said: No, no, no – don’t tell me!

First, she guessed that the person in charge must be the balding man seated at the table smack in the middle of the auditorium. Then she thought it must be the woman with the sassy haircut sitting next to him, talking over the headphones to the guy with the god-voice.  Next, she wondered if both of them were in charge.  We watched as the choreographer kept landing lightly in the row directly in back of them and something struck them as hilarious… Meanwhile a scrawny guy and a blonde kid kept appearing and disappearing on the staircase revolve and we listened to hundreds of bizarre sound cues.

My friend continued to ponder in silence until finally she whispered to me: There is NO ONE running the show. The theatre really IS magic!

That moment will forever be etched in my mind. Not so much that my friend thought the theatre was magic, but rather that the organization within the chaos was so clear to me, and so bewildering to her.

I proceeded to identify with certainty for my friend that the man and the woman at the table were the lighting and costume designers, the scrawny guy and the kid were the director and set designer; then I pointed out the company manager, spotlight operator, dance captain and two producers sitting in the back of the house. Mind you I didn’t KNOW anyone associated with the production except for one producer and the choreographer, yet my recitation amounted to a veritable org chart of a Broadway musical.

That day in the theatre when my friend “experienced the magic”, I recognized that the oh-so-familiar creative-chaos of a Broadway show was exactly what I was looking for in the work environment at the Studio, yet I had closed the door on my own professional experience because I didn’t think it “fit” – yet there it was, hidden in plain view.  I decided immediately to give up the feeble attempt to create my own little version of a Wall Street firm, and to lay claim to the collaborative art form I knew so well.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, the idea for Theatrical Intelligence had been born.


Photograph © Samuel Morgan