Jim's Richard III Blog

What had started as a blog of Richard III rehearsal process at Cal Shakes has now evolved or devolved into a small novella. The author is petrified to change the name for fear it'll disappear, and wouldn't know what to call it anyway. Many stories are included and questions are even answered sometimes!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Swimming with Panthers

I had a dream last night of swimming with a black panther. Or rather helping him to swim by wrapping my arms around his chest and supporting him through the water....an impression of musky wet fur, straining muscles, and a basso profundo purr trail me around my apartment as I make morning coffee.

My small fat black cat sticks her head in my armpit as I write. I am her man. After I dress she will sit in the middle of our living room impatiently staring at me. Eventually, driven by her implacable gaze, I will go outside with her, play stick with her, water the plants, and let her chase the water as I move from plant to plant. She likes to chase water, fascinated perhaps by its elusiveness, the uncatchability of it, and fearlessly becomes wetter and wetter till her face is beaded with tiny drops of water. Wet and purring.

Welcome to unemployment.

I've had some really good questions, some from Martha (aka Bruce) and some from Josh -- an aspiring young actor -- and since I haven't called anyone by their correct names yet I may continue the Tradition. Maybe I'll call him Grasshopper.....

(Insert breathy flute music here)

I will begin by correcting Josh to tell him that the skunk was no scene partner, son. He was not professional; he left me to cover for him -- simply walked offstage. I will never work with him again. He is dead to me.

To answer all your well posed questions (I especially liked the part about how captivating I was, Josh. Thank you.) in one posting would be a very lengthy entry, so I'll put them into several postings. It may be awhile before we are all enlightened, and I'm going to mix fear and doubt into the difficulties Josh will have to surmount by first saying -- if you're thinking of becoming an actor, Josh, don't.

Just don't. It is an incredibly difficult profession to break into; even more so than it was when I started acting, I think. Less funding and more ego. You have to learn to hustle, develop a very thick hide, and to know that you'll most likely be unemployed alot and will need to have a second job on the side to support your theatre habit. I think the statistics on acting when I started were something like 1% OF 1% of all Union (Actors Equity Association--the Theatre actors union) make a living wage. That was 30 plus years ago. Repeat those figures to yourself. Now adjust for inflation.

You probably already know these statistics and if you really want to do this I doubt you'll be deterred any more than I when I announced to my father-- a Colonel in the Army -- that I wanted to be an actor and had his ice blue incredulous eyes bore into me.

The above being said, I can't think of any other profession off the top of my head in which I am fit to, or would rather be in, Josh, and I wish you the greatest success and joy in it if you continue. At it's best it is glorious; exhilarating, illuminating, a force for change and a source of laughter and hope. And you'll meet lots of girls.

Hey, that's how I met my wife--she was a stripper (a very modest one mind you--she didn't disrobe, she teased) in a very bad local melodrama that we did at the El Patio bar that Billy the Kid drank at in Old Mesilla, New Mexico. We kissed under the rain spout. Romantic, no? Though it may have been raining at the time................

This is where I started.

Coming up: How Did I Get To Where I Am?


Blogger Mark Toney said...

Hi Jim,

I am a great fan of the theatre and regularly see plays at ACT, BRT, Ashland, and Broadway when I can (just saw Old Vic's production of Moon of the Misbegotten). This is my third year as season ticket holder at CalShakes. I want to say how much I enjoyed your portrayals of Edward IV and Bishop of Ely. I brought my family to the Sunday final performance and we were fortunate enough to sit in the front row. Although briefly on stage, I appreciated your old school eloquence and your ability to capture an audience's attention with your understated projection of stage presence. Thank you for a performance that stands out in my mind above all others in this production of Richard III.

June 26, 2007 at 2:51 PM  

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