Sunday, May 22

Dear Students – Past, Present And Future

I am always doing everything in my capacity to help my students to be the very best they can be. I emphasize on a regular basis those things they need to do to reach the highest ground attainable. In keeping with that I’d like to offer some advice that I have touched on before that bares repeating.

The artist sees and experiences the world differently than others. The things that touch and move them are necessary for their art. It is imperative therefore that they see and experience the world on the deepest levels imaginable. Staying in touch and connecting with the world around you is not a luxury. It is a necessity that requires your attention. It is important that you see and absorb the world like a sponge. Taking notes on a daily basis of those things that effect you, move you emotionally, is critical. Be as descriptive and detailed as you can possibly be in writing about those events that stimulate your emotions and equally important, your imagination. That is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal and it would be wise to nurture it. Your imagination ultimately enables you to discover endless ways to improvise your scenes and arrive at bold and interesting choices. You may not be aware of it but you are adjusting your behavior on a daily basis to deal with an infinite number of unexpected situations. In dealing with life’s surprises you must find not one, but a variety of ways to deal with different situations. When confronted by the unexpected, ask yourself, “In what ways could I have dealt with this particular situation differently?” Imagine in what ways you can adjust your behavior to deal with situations that happen without prior notice. Your ability to adjust in the moment to the unexpected is a sure sign that your imagination is at “play”.

If you live every day fully you will no doubt begin to bring that fullness to your work.

There is nothing casual about art. Actors must understand instinctively that there are no casual moments in drama. The stakes are always high and the characters you play are not “living” casually. Every moment in a play/script has meaning and it is your job to bring your character to life. That requires investing every ounce of your being in the world you are expected to inhabit. If you do any less you are cheating yourself, depriving yourself of the joy of being right here, right now. if you want and need to be a consummate professional then you must deliver when the lights go up or when the director shouts “action”. You owe that not only to yourself but to the people that pay to see you.

Those that currently study or have studied with me know that I never, ever, teach half-heartedly. I never take a night off or give myself any excuse for not giving my all. That would be a sure way to deprive myself of the joy that comes from doing what I do, and it would be cheating my students out of the education that they need, deserve and pay for.

Stella Adler said that Tennessee Williams was a multimillionaire but money was by no means the motivating force in his life. His art, his need to create, gave him the greatest satisfaction. That was where he lived. I am not suggesting that having money is a bad thing. I am suggesting that for the artist the need to create transcends the material world. Cars, limousines, yachts, multimillion dollar condos are not the driving force in the life of the artist. Their work is what drives them. It is not a matter of good and bad or better or worse. It is just the nature of the beast.

One last thing. I’m a dreamer. I’ve been dreaming since I was a child. It was a way for me to find comfort and escape the harsh realities of my world. I needed to get away from those realities and my fantasy life provided me with refuge and solace. As I got older I learned that I had to make adjustments when life threw me a curveball or a slider. I had to learn to deal with every card I was dealt. Failure, defeat and rejection are inevitable. You can only run so far before life catches up with you. I’m still a dreamer. Dreams are important. They keep us going, give us a target to shoot for. The artist dreams. They have no choice. It is the nature of the beast.