24-پل براترکتاب: زندگی در چند بخش / فصل 24
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متن انگلیسی فصل
When you first start out in the business, you have to expend a lot of energy. Hustling isn’t complicated. How much energy you put out dictates how much heat you generate. I decided to be a furnace. I felt the hotter I could get, the higher the odds of something catching fire.
I did psychotherapy. I did improv and stand-up comedy solely for the purpose of conquering my fears. It was the 1980s, the self-help era, and EST (Erhard Seminars) and Scientology were big in Los Angeles. I took what I could from those ways of thinking and discarded the rest. If I became too enthralled with one approach, one way of thinking, I knew it was time to move on.
I enrolled in a bunch of acting classes, and I soaked up everything I could. Some actors fall under the sway of one teacher, but I learned important lessons from so many: Ivan Markota, Warren Robertson, Harry Mastrogeorge, Shirley Knight, Bill Esper, Andy Goldberg, Mindy Sterling, Michael Patrick King, and legendary comedy teacher Harvey Lembeck. I guarded against becoming a great “classroom actor.” Whenever I felt I was one of the best actors in a class, I left to find another one where I wasn’t.
Some aspects of acting—philosophies and ideas and techniques—can be imparted in a formal environment. But the fact is that at its heart there’s an element of mystery to any craft, and the mystery takes you inward. Writing, meditation, yoga, acting—it’s about letting go. You can teach someone how to drive a car or throw a fastball, but it’s hard to teach someone to let go.
The best teacher is experience. Find the educational in every situation.
I got the lead role (the Robert Redford role) in a production of Barefoot in the Park at the Granada Theater. I was Paul Bratter. A young woman from Nebraska played my bride, the Jane Fonda role, Corie. My costar was pretty and innocent and had a master’s degree in theater. I was impressed and excited to work with her. But things went south quickly.
We were supposed to be newlyweds, mad about each other. But while rehearsing, she’d stand as far away from me on the stage as she could. I’d go over to her and grab her and kiss her and she’d turn her cheek. I was thinking: Did I offend you? Am I not your type? If you’re not attracted me . . . fake it. You’re acting! Find something.
The director, Bob Barron, said to the girl: “You’re newlyweds. When he walks through the door after having been at work all day, what would you?”
“What would I do?”
“I would run to him and throw my arms around him.”
“Yes! Do that!”
“Well, you didn’t tell me to do that.”
Most actors know instinctively to prepare. Part of that preparation is reading a script and studying a character and coming to the stage or the set with ideas. My costar didn’t seem to feel that sense of accountability, but still, I wanted to find a way in.
It’s tricky to navigate the romantic aspect of acting, to be open and vulnerable—even if you’re in love with someone else in real life. Or even if you find the actor you’re working with to be unattractive or repulsive. Whatever her reasons for not giving me much on stage, I wanted to try to make a connection. I was flirting, not intending to take it anywhere else, but I needed to see where she was vulnerable, where there was an opening. I needed her to see me, too.
I tried taking her to lunch. I complimented her regularly. My hygiene was set. I brushed my teeth. I spritzed myself with every cologne in the store until I finally found a scent I thought was irresistible. When that didn’t work, I changed colognes. Nothing moved her.
I wondered: Is it me? I thought back on that girl in that college drama course, the one who kissed me wildly and without warning on the park bench, and I thought: I wish I were doing this play with her. She was all in. She didn’t have any inhibitions. We’re in love? Let’s go.
I didn’t know what to do. I called Ivan Markota, with whom I was studying at the time. He was an insightful, no-bullshit, tough guy kind of mentor. He’d know what to do. “I can’t get in,” I told him. “She squashes all her impulses. She’s not open to me, and she’s not telling me why. I’m starting to judge this girl. I’m starting to shut down. She’s pissing me off, and it’s starting to affect the play.”
Ivan said, “Maybe she was taught improperly. There’s nothing you can do about that. Just keep it simple. Look for one thing. Find one thing about her that you find attractive. Focus on that.”
Fortunately she had very pretty blue eyes. I gazed into them. She became all eyes to me. It’s true that sometimes I imagined them on a different face. On a different person. Even though I felt annoyed by the rest of her, I could pour some affection into her eyes.
Conditions improved marginally, but what I learned from that experience on Barefoot in the Park was how to work in suboptimal circumstances, how to try to make something from nothing. What not to do.
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