My Word

My mom said something interesting to me this morning. She had a radio interview last night and the dude pronounced her name wrong. After efusive apologies she said, ‘Don’t worry about it, I know who I am.’

Yep, this is the one. The most pretentious blog I can write.

My least favorite part of any play I do is the curtain call. Actually, even worse than the curtain call is the elongated conversation that takes place afterwards where people give you the play by play opinion of what you have just done.

It isn’t that I can’t handle criticism, quite the opposite. I don’t care. These are conversations that I am dying to get out of. There is a great scene in American in Paris, toward the beginning, when Gene Kelly’s character, selling his paintings on the side of the road, is approached by an American student studying art in France. It may seem weird to get life lessons from an old musical, but the scene is amazing. She asks him a question about his use of perspective, and he tells her to beat it. “If you like my paintings, I won’t really care and you won’t buy anything anyway. If you don’t like them, it’ll just make me mad. So clear out, sister.”

I know when I have done something good, I don’t need anyone confirming it. People don’t get jobs because producers see them in plays, there isn’t a single person’s opinion that will actually change my life. I also know when I have done something bad. And people’s polite deflection of criticism (the “you guys really pulled it off!” or “you must be really proud!” kind) just piss me off.

People seem to feel a need to give their opinion, which is fine, as long as everyone understands that it is for the benefit of the observer, not the observed. The moment that I affected you when I was on stage is the actual moment, I felt it and you felt it. The commentary on that moment is generally not only wasted, it sort of cheapens it. Many actors say they never read reviews, but I honestly never have. I have also withdrawn my name from every award consideration.*

Last night I saw a series of one acts, produced by some friends, and one of the scenes featured an actress I really like playing an institutionalized woman talking to her doctor. The actor playing the doctor had skill as an actor, and was about 5 foot 7 and rail thin, so, y’know, perfect for TV where they hire miniature people. I was enjoying the scene somewhat, particularly her, when I realized that what had stopped me from liking it any further was the guy.

He was wearing maybe five days growth of stubble on his face. Just enough to increase the edge of his jaw and give him that ‘oldest brother on Party of Five’ look. Just enough to let us know that he was performing, but also aware of his performance. How exactly would a 23 year old guy be already working as a medical doctor, able to dispense prescriptions? And why would a professional have a ‘I’ve been wrestling crocs in the Amazon’ beard? I’m sure the ‘industry’ people who saw these one acts last night can’t wait to give him a slot as a younger brother on ‘According to Jim’, or a shot at the new ‘Bachelor’ or maybe the fourth dude in a new boy band, but the whole thing made me want to break each tooth out of his head with my bare fist.

On the other hand, I like it when people remind me that they love me, y’know, as a dude. I like it when my brothers and sisters and parents say it, I like it when my friends say it (in their own retarded ways). I don’t mean that I want to live a life uncommented upon, but my theater life has become actually more like religion for me. The fact that I have finally agreed to worship in public doesn’t make it any less a personal thing for me.

*The only award I have ever accepted is the Cecil B. Davis Dance Is My Life award, presented by the Iowa City Community Theater. I did the bottle dance in Fiddler and after what felt like a six month run I never dropped a bottle off my head.