The least-talented professional

It’s hard for me to admit, but as a performer, I’m often not all that different from other performers I’m working with when it comes to talent. Occasionally, I’m the least talented one there.

Thing is, that rarely matters. What helps me is I come in with a positive attitude and a good work ethic. In most situations, as long as you can perform the basic minimum tasks, that’s all you need to keep the job. To stay, and even to get asked to do more, get promoted, or offered more pay. As long as your a pleasure to work with.

The world is full of people who can do the same work you can. Sometimes cheaper, sometimes faster, and sometimes better. But if others like working with you, that means more for your career than anything else you can do.

In Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech, he says the three things that keep people working are: 1) their work is good; 2) and because they are easy to get along with; 3) and because they deliver the work on time.

“…And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine.”

 

Weekly Rundown

Another week has come to an end, and before you know it the first month of 2020 will be over. New Year not so new anymore? I understand. But here’s what I’ve come across this week.

Reading: Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’m about half-way through, so it should get wrapped up, maybe this weekend. There’s a familiarity I feel when reading this. I’ve only done one solo hike – the Wicklow Way just south of Dublin – and that was mostly accidental. Much like how Strayed went from concept to hike in, I believe, six months. Becoming found by getting lost is a concept I think many, perhaps all of us are familiar with.

Listening: Let the Games Begin by Aloe Blacc. I heard this at work one day, and it ear-wormed itself into my head so I had to track it down. It’s uplifting while at the same time being catchy. I hadn’t really listened to Aloe Blacc since 2010 and his Good Things album.

Spending time: Watching a lot of Jeopardy. I’ve taken the test twice – once in 2016, and again last year. Neither time I was satisfied with my performance, and, since I’ve not been called by the show’s producers, I’m guessing they weren’t either. But I’ll try again next week, and testing is January 28-30.

Sharing:

Table work

There’s a session in theatrical rehearsals where actors, the director, and design staff sit down and discuss the vision of the show. It’s not just about recitation, but about being visions to reality.

Life is a lot like that. If we have clear visions, we’re more apt to make them reality. We can sit down with them, till then over, discuss them, and try them out.

Clear visions set the standard for quality theatre, and can also be used to create quality life.

Weekly Rundown

The week that passed was a long one, I’m not going to lie. The fourteen-hour car ride back to Florida was a bit exhausting, and the trip itself wasn’t as restful as I would have liked. Nonetheless, here’s some things that I spent some time with this week.

What I’m reading: Tip of the Iceberg by Mark Adams. Just cozying up to this book as the weather is getting cold. Thinking about this past summer in Alaska, and what the future may hold.

What I’m listening to: Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9. Also known as the New World Symphony, this makes me feel like it’s Thanksgiving. I enjoy this recording from the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra.

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What I’m spending time on: Dog training.

My 60 lb. boxer is nearly seven years old, partially blind and deaf from an invitro stroke, and ultra-hyper. Breaking him of some bad habits will take a good deal of time, but I’m certain that he and I are up to the challenge.

 

Other things of interest:

  • Knives Out, written and directed by Rian Johnson. Wow, I loved this movie. I thought it was well-written, well-directed, and well-acted. With names like Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, and Christopher Plummer, it was an excellent ensemble movie. The premise – wealthy suspense novelist dead by apparent suicide following birthday party with suspicious family members – may seem trope, but it leaves you guessing until the end.
  • Where to buy books online from a website that isn’t Amazon. From Anya Zhukova, here are seven recommendations that include B&N and BAM. I also like AbeBooks and Easton Press for more obscure or special edition volumes. And I go to eBay as well. As I was linking Tip of the Iceberg, it occurred to me that I didn’t want to recommend Amazon for every book I like. So I went with GoodReads, though it is owned by Amazon. Its positives include that it links to retailers other than Amazon,  and is enhanced by its users and readers.
  • Why can’t every workweek be four days? I mean, seriously?
  • Nat Geo story on the death of the male white rhino, and the species’ coming extinction… An extinction brought about by man’s overhunting of the animal.

“Watching a creature die—one who is the last of its kind—is something I hope never to experience again. It felt like watching our own demise.” – Ami Vitale

Weekly roundup

Well, here we are again. Another week down, another week closer to 2020. And what the hell have I been doing with my life?!

Not important…. Here’s my week:

What I’m reading: Still on Dracula. I’m about two-thirds of the way done. I only read for about an hour before bed, because I’ve been hard at work on a few other projects. Dracula has stood out to me for some time – a book that I should have read. I’m glad I’m finally getting it done. I also found my paperback edition, purchased in the early-nineties for fifty cents. I’ve seen the theater where Bram Stoker worked, for God’s sake. And I’m just now reading it. Sometimes I question my priorities.

What I’m listening to: La Nozze di Figaro. The opera by Mozart. I’m going to be in New York and Pennsylvania in a couple of weeks, and I thought it would be fun to see a show at the Met. Because, in all the times I’ve been to New York, I’ve never been to the Met for a performance. I’ve toured it. Had my photo taken in the lobby. But, you know… Priorities. Anyway, this production brings back Luca Pisaroni and Adam Plachetka, reversing the roles of Figaro and Count Almaviva. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it.

What I’m spending time with: This acting workbook my friend Anthony and I have been going over. I took a lot of time over the past two days to look through it again. I’ve got maybe a couple hours worth of work left, but I’m excited that it is so near completion. I’ll post links once I can get it up for sale.

Other things of interest:

  • Why retiring might mean never having to grow up.
  • As only a random watched of Courage the Cowardly Dog, I do recall laughing. A lot. But I don’t remember it being overly scary…
  • HBO’s His Dark Materials. I hate to say that I’m mostly waiting for the armored bear, but I’m mostly waiting for the armored bear. And Lin Manuel. But I really want him to finish his work on the Name of the Wind adaptation!
  • Speaking of Lin Manuel, the Drama Book Shop is set to reopen in the spring!
  • And lastly, because this was heavily slanted towards performance and acting, something that caught my eye dealing with none of that! Yoga… the cure for insomnia.

Love the art in yourself

I’ve spent the last week with the words of playwrights, actors, poets, philosophers, and directors. An eclectic mix, to say the least. What I’ve gathered in my journey is a collection of thoughts on acting, theatre, and art.

Constantin Stanislavski said to love the art in yourself, not your self in the art. For me, I think he’s warning against getting too big for your breeches. And that can happen anywhere, in any occupation.

When you get to feeling like you’re the best thing since sliced bread, even if you happen to be the best thing since sliced bread, something is wrong. Humility goes a long way in keeping you working. In keeping you producing. It’s when you start to lost that humility that you think anything you do is above reproach.

As the Chinese proverb says, the higher up, the greater the fall.