Individualism is the fountain that all can drink from, and for each and everyone, hopefully the taste is different.
Being an artist is many things, it is like being an indentured servant, it is a blessing, it is a process of discovery that seemingly never ends, it is being an alchemist, it is being an explorer, it is being astonished, it is providing wisdom and joy, it is knocking at doors which have never been opened, it is an overcoming of limits, it is humbling, it is sharing life with an unknown deity.
As an actor I spent as much time and mental energy trying to understand what I was actually doing as I did on preparing and performing a role. In the grandest sense my work was a journey into myself, into the dark cave and gentle grotto of my own being and reason for living.
As a pillow underneath and soft light surrounding the weary head of my life as an artist with all the difficulties and hardships inherent in that life, I consider myself fortunate to have lived long enough and to have worked enough to begin to understand the practical destiny of my life in terms of the actor's obligations and experience.
There is a place where words and actions stop. Beyond it is pure thought and experience. The words and actions are steps leading up to that mysterious place.
An actor begins with a story, usually a script, with a character defined by the author in terms of words and behavior. After penetrating deeply enough into the story the actor will know certain fundamental things about the character he is portraying. Those things are all threads of an overall fabric of the character's life. Within the given circumstances of the story he plays out the parts of his character's individuality. And all of those parts are tied together by an objective, a wish, a desire, a search.
As the actor reaches into his own well of experience to fashion the movement of his character through the story, he comes upon another objective, that of the play itself. Then questions arise. Why do this play? What is important about it? What does it say?
The answers to those questions have to do with the authors' own objectives, his search for answers to his own practical destiny. And if he is a prolific writer each play is another thread in the tapestry of his own life. Each is a search for an answer to life's fundamental questions. Is Shakespeare's "Hamlet" a search for the source and dimensions of being? Is "Othello" a search for the evil that causes doubt, suspicion and loss of faith? Is "Merry Wives of Windsor" about the loss of artificial and foolishly assumed dignity? Is "The Tempest" a search for the moaning of the loss and regaining of power and place? Most of his plays have to do with loss of some kind.
Even though I don't perform it any more I read Shakespeare all the time because there was a genius who proceeded bravely into the necessary objective of his own life. It was a super objective that ordered him, like an indentured servant, to write. I want to know what it was.
Which makes me approach the last door in my own journey, or at least the latest one. What is it that made me become and actor and do it in spite of the difficulties and hardships? Behind all the roles I've played, the wigs and make up, the costumes and scenery, the speeches and actions, the lifetime of being an entertainer there is a super objective of my life to which all the other parts are related like threads in the tapestry of my very being. It is only and specifically mine and I need to know what it is. It is the fountain I want to drink from and to taste my reason for being.
I perceive myself now as a novice, a neophyte at the temple, knocking at a door that has never been opened. Other philosophers who have reached a similar door write more deeply and more eloquently than I, but I believe that at the other side of that door words and action cease and pure thought and pure experience begin.
Weekend quiz, answer the following clues. It's easy
Comet's driver (5)
Headless egos are helpers (5)
Precipitation sound to gentle creatures prancing (8)
Sooty entrance for bag man (7)
Herb's digit up above (9)
Receptacle for feet hanging (8)
Charles' festival song (1, 9, 5)