Wednesday, February 9, 2011

truth in the art

In November, I was cast in Gypsy and have loved being back in the theatre again. But sometimes I forget how easy it is to fall into the trap of wanting the attention, wanting people to think I'm great, wanting to be noticed. It's a common theme in Gypsy. At the end, Mama Rose says to her daughter, "I just wanted to be noticed." To which her daughter replies, "Like I wanted you to notice me." The beautiful thing about the arts is that, by nature, it asks questions and posts uncertainties. I've been living in those places of uncertainties, disappointments, and unpredictability lately. It is funny that I've found myself as an artist, because I am really uncomfortable in uncertainties and questions without answers and that is so much of what art is. It is the bare, naked truth that we don't have the answers to life's many questions.

It is my nature and greatest temptation to strive for perfection and find my value in how good I am and can be. Last year, I learned to allow myself to be enough for God in my failures and much of the last few months has been recognizing that I'm still enough for God in my successes, not loved or valued more because of them, but loved as much in success or failure. God does not love me less when I screw up or more when I do well. The incredible danger of the day job I work now, is that it plays into that desire for perfection. If I just work hard enough, get the hang of it enough, perfect all my structures and systems, solve all the problems, answer all of the questions, then I will be great and people will praise me for how perfect I am for this job. It is way too comfortable and makes it way to easy for me to find my worth in my own successes. But as the old adage goes, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."

The beautiful thing about theatre is that while the temptation still exists, eventually there is no room for it. Because eventually, in art, one comes to realize that all systems and structures will fail the artist, you will never "get the hang of it," and there are always more questions to be asked because art's breath of life is borne of the earth and the ever-changing struggles of humanity. It is not corporate. It does not care if you don't solve the problems. It does not exist to make money. Art does not try to sell anything but only offer itself to speak into and ask questions of the soul and the world. There is no destination point in acting and always a new horizon. I can never "perfect" myself as an actor, I can only learn to allow myself to be enough for the art as I have learned to be enough for God. Recently, I have been worrying that maybe I'm not an honest enough actor. But then realized that I've been viewing honesty all wrong. I thought being honest as an actor meant being honest with the character I'm portraying, but now I think it has more to do with being honest with who I am in the midst of the words, objectives, and feelings I'm portraying.

I am finding it really hard to be enough for my art form and to just be honest with who I am in the middle of it. Sometimes, I still just want to be noticed.

But then I tell myself:
We are not artists because we want to be seen by others, but because we want more clearly to see ourselves.