dani talks discipline

I had to laugh at myself when I wrote the title for this post.  As someone who has totally gone off the rails of our TwoEvilActors blog posting schedule in the past couple of weeks, where do I get off talking about discipline?

But I had kind of a revelation yesterday!  It goes sorta like this…

1.  I can be kind of a brat.

2. Living in the moment doesn’t mean being attached to the moment.

3.  Discipline isn’t about pushing yourself when you feel driven, it’s about pushing yourself when you don’t want to do something, or when you feel like you can’t.

Let me unpack this a little bit.

1:  Being a brat:…

This one time, my friend Phil and I were at Shari’s preparing to enjoy a feast.  Sitting in the booth behind ours was a family with a 2 year old child, and this kid had somethin to SAY about it.

The kid’s Mom, with the patience of a Saint, was trying to get the kid to simply sit in the booth.  As the Mom tried to gently slide this little punk down the vinyl seat towards the window end of the booth, the kid fought with all four limbs like a spider monkey and articulately said,

“I DON’T WANNA SIT THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Phil and I, in our very actor-y way, were absolutely fascinated, not annoyed by this little banshee-monster-devil-child, but fascinated.  Such free self-expression!  Such lack of inhibition!  That kid had the stupidest objective in the world but by God she was pursuing it heart and soul.  One of us, I don’t remember who, leaned forward and said,

“What if adults all acted like this whenever they had feelings?”

And then we both lost our minds.  The world would go to shit, and nothing would ever get done.  But a lot of the work that actors do is being in touch with those impulses and allowing them to live.  After all, most stories that we tell through film/theater/television are not about the day that you repress or redirect your true feelings about your wife/best friend/bosss, they’re about the day that you let loose and then have to deal with the consequences.

Living In The Moment

The point is to find a balance between allowing your impulses to live but making choices about how you want to act on them.  Both as an actor and as a human.  

…What I’m trying to say here is that I KILLED A MAN.  BLOG CONFESSIONAL TIME!!

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Just kidding!  No I didn’t.  …..Or did I?  This blog IS called Two EVIL Actors…..

…But seriously I didn’t.  I really shouldn’t joke about these things.  On to the next thing!

2.  Being in the moment without being attached to the moment…

Those that know me can attest that I’m really not THAT MUCH of a brat, and that I have never killed a man.  But for me, and I think for all of us, “living in the moment” can be kind of an intense experience…

Think about it: if you really allowed into your conscious experience everything going on in your body, mind, soul, emotional life, etc. for even ONE moment, it would be a lot to process.

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Noooo!!!  Don’t freak out little owl!  Here’s the beautiful thing about the whole concept of “living in the moment”:  There’s always another moment!  You’re never going to run out of moments.  Just because you allow yourself to truly go through an experience doesn’t mean you have to get attached to that experience and spiral down into an abyss of panic, fear, depression, or murderous rage.  Just breathe.  A new moment is waiting to rush into you.  Literally.

3. Discipline is for the times when you DON’T feel motivated…

Since last we met, dear readers, I had an overwhelming whirlwind 3-day trip to Boise, Idaho (my place of origin), came back to LA sick as a dog, and slammed into the first week of the last half of the semester like a hurricane.  Last week was a difficult one, but oh my GOD did I learn a lot.

First of all, despite the physical and mental stress I was under, my work actually reached a new level in my classes.  In the process of training, whether you are training to be an actor or a distance runner or whatever, the progress can feel painstaking and gradual on a day-to-day basis.  Rob Clare, our Shakespeare instructor this semester, told us, “Shakespeare isn’t hard–it’s just gradual.”  And this lesson applies to all kinds of rigorous training.  It is gradual.

And one day you might wake up and be totally sick and deeply exhausted and it forces you to just surrender to the experience and you realize, “Oh my God.  I can just trust myself and let go and all of my hard work will still be there.”

And then a week later you wake up still totally sick and exhausted but you discipline yourself to show the fuck up mentally and physically and you realize, “Oh THIS is what discipline is.  It’s putting in the work every single day whether you feel like starting or not.  It’s trusting that on the other side of the pain or exhaustion is a new experience, and it’s worth it to get to the other side.”

Before, I viewed “discipline” as being motivated to do hard things.  But for me as an actor, I think that discipline is the thing that grounds you in the practical WORK part of being a creative professional when you really feel like being a brat.  

Again, it’s a balance.  Creatively, it’s a balance between setting up a structure in which you can do the work and just allowing yourself to exist in the moment and follow your impulses.  Personally, it’s a balance between disciplining yourself and indulging yourself…

That’s right y’all, I’m ending my LATE POST ABOUT DISCIPLINE with a message of self-indulgence.  I’m a work in progress, people, and maybe I feel like being a brat today.  

Have a great Wednesday night, friends.  Treat yo self.  

D

dani talks crazyballs

Obviously, that is what this week has been, both for myself and Britt.  This is the first week that our long-distance-dual-blogging schedule broke down a little bit, due to the fact that Britt and I are both CRAZYBALLS right now. 

crazyballs: adjective, adverb \ˈkrā-zē-ˈbȯlz\

The state or quality of being out-of-control, busy, or otherwise in a state of madness.

“Did you see Brent is Scene Study class today?  Boyfriend got CRAZYBALLS.”

“I’d love to get together but my schedule is super crazyballs right now.  Hit me up in a couple of weeks.”

If you desire further explanation, please enjoy the image of this dress, which was emailed to me by my friend Liz, and which appeared in a Nordstrom ad on the Merriam-Webster website when I went to find the official pronunciation of the word “Balls.”

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by Topshop. From Nordstrom

Aside from the fact that my acting program relentlessly pushes us deeper and deeper into our own psyches, Aside from the fact that it stretches our physical capabilities and challenges our notions of what we think we are capable of, Aside from the exhaustion that comes with total honesty…  Aside from all of that work that happens in our actual classes, there is part-time-job work, there is backstage-work on plays, and most recently, there is work on my class’s production of Don Quixote. 

Miguel de Cervantes’ 900+ page masterpiece novel Don Quixote begins like this:

“Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and greyhound for racing.”

And it tells the story of a 50-year-old gentleman of reduced circumstances whose primary joy in life is to read books of chivalry, which tell tall tales of knights and damsels in words like

…the heavens on high divinely heighten thy divinity with the stars and make thee deserving of the deserts thy greatness deserves.”

Cervantes explains, “With these words and phrases the poor gentlemen lost his mind…” and changed his name to Don Quixote, changed the name of his horse to Rocinante, fancied a young village girl named Aldonza was actually his great Lady Dulcinea, and sallied forth into the land as a knight errant to right wrongs, seek adventure, and gain eternal renown.  

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Don Quixote by Svetlin Vassilev

In other words, he went crazyballs and went off on a grand imaginative adventure to expand his greatness and increase the good and nobility in the world.  ….Hmmmmm….. Yesssss…..

Wait, hold up!  Turn into a play?  Reading a novel?  Rehearsals?  WHAT IS GOING ON HERE??

This semester my class is being placed in the fire of “devised theatre” to be refined and molded into an ensemble.  Devised theatre is also known as collaborative creation, and in this case the creative process is centered around the source material of Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote.  This program being incredible physical, we are using the common ground laid by the head of our program Andy Robinson, as well as our physical work with David Bridel, as well as working with Edgar on Mary Overlie’s viewpoints, as well as the work in all our other classes, to create the story of Don Quixote from scratch with our bodies (and our voices).

So that is that in a nutshell. Don Quixote saddles up with his trusty squire, AKA his hapless peasant neighbor Sancho, and the two go off to claim glory and adventure.  

Don Quixote and Sancho, by  Svetlin Vassilev

Don Quixote and Sancho, by Svetlin Vassilev

There are many things I love about this story.  One is the fact that, despite the fact that everyone is somewhat shocked and horrified at Don Quixote’s madness, he brings true magic into a lot of people’s lives.  At first, he is a source of mayhem and ends up getting his ass righteously kicked a lot, but he ends up inadvertently uniting young lovers embroiled in the most romantic, imaginative and unlikely romance of all times.   He ends up bringing joy, wisdom, and entertainment into the lives of a bored Duke and Duchess who decide to play along with his madness.  He counsels wisely as much as he rambles madly, and as much as people dismiss him, he ends up changing a lot of lives.  I begin to wonder whether or not the people he encounters see that they really are romantic heroes themselves.  He blurs the lines between the possible and the impossible, the real and the unreal, and he reminds us to be our most noble, our most selfless, and our most true selves.  

So this weekend as we kick off March, trekking onward and upward through the madness of 2013, here’s to Don Quixote and his crazyballs.

Don Quixote goes crazyballs in the mountains as Sancho looks on. by Gustave Dore.

Don Quixote goes crazyballs in the mountains as Sancho looks on. by Gustave Dore.

britt talks not enough time

So yeah, for those of you following along at home, I missed my weekly (Monday) post this week…whoopsie! Better a day late than never, right?

Just as Dani described in her last post of feeling upside-down (both metaphorically and literally, the yoga-genius), I too feel as though my whole life has been turned on its head and my concept of time has been thrown out the window. Things in different areas of my life have begun to spin out of control (for better or for worse) and take on a life of their own. Time speeds up and then slows down and then takes off at the speed of light again, hardly allowing me time to catch my breath.

This week, I’ve been experimenting with time. How can I make more time for things that are important to me? For relationships that are important to me? Is “being this busy” making me a selfish person? Sometimes I feel like it. I am so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life who love and support me and I hate feeling that I am neglecting them. Or maybe this is simply The Exhaustion talking, turning me into a stressie-guilt ball that is constantly bouncing off the walls to stay awake. But in a time when things are taking off career-wise, you are expected to answer that call, right? Put everything else on the back-burner? Put some relationships on hold…or get rid of them all together? Brave the change alone? Is that what you are supposed to do? I don’t know.

I have no idea anymore.

Yesterday was my last “official” day of work at my desk job for four weeks (I am an accountant, mind you, so this is a “big deal”). I am taking time off to shoot for the feature film, Birds of Neptune. I’ve never taken a leave of absence from my job like this before, and I must admit–it makes me nervous. If someone can take over my duties for a month, that means I am replaceable… right? Eeep!! Don’t think about it Britt, just take the jump! One day at a time.

One day at a time. That was the name of the game this week. One moment at time. Let’s catch up, shall we?

My Week

I’m pretty sure that I didn’t get a decent night’s sleep (mostly by choice, but let’s also remember that I’m living with four college boys ) all week. But I need to tell you… at this point in time, I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes you to push through weeks like this before you are able to see some incredible pay-off.

This week, rehearsals for the workshop of Amir Shirazi’s musical, Crumbs is in full swing with the cast!! How exciting.

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This whole process has been truly fascinating. Each evening at rehearsal we have had a revised libretto to go over, new music to learn, and new material to feel out as an actor. It’s like being at theatre camp!! It is so fun. I love being able to see new work take shape and to observe the playwright’s process. I am honored that Amir allows for my input and to be a part of this experience. We are all excited to share this beautiful project with an audience next weekend.

Birds of Neptune begins shooting in six days and we have been working hard this week with rehearsals, photo shoots, costume fittings, music rehearsal/studio sessions, and me trying to learn how to roll my own cigarettes. Bam.

with actress Molly Elizabeth Parker

(c) John Campbell w/ Molly Elizabeth Parker

It is exciting to see the designers and crew added into the mix, to see the art department come in and change the interior design of the house/set while we are rehearsing in it… I can feel everyone and everything buzzing with anticipation of its first official shooting day.

I was lucky to get called in to audition for NBC’s Grimm again this week for two different roles. And thanks to some great coaching and a day off of work, I got called back for both roles!! That was an exhausting couple days (I was trying to meet a payroll processing AND audit deadline at my day job at the same time… when it rains it pours, right?). No dice for Grimm yet, but each time in the room is a step forward.

I also had the incredible fortune this week of booking two commercials: one shoot on Wednesday for a South Dakota car dealership with r-west and one shoot on Friday with R2C Group. This gave me some peace of mind money-wise, as I am nervous to leave the stability of my day job… ah, thank you Universe! Just what I needed. And hopefully a good tax return along with that. 🙂

And as I rush to get this post out in-between things today, forgive any typos, poor sentence structure, and/or just flat-out Crazy Person Talk, okay? Thanks friends. Oh, how I love you.

… it’s a working day.

Love,

britt