Saturday, July 26, 2008

To be or...

I define myself as an actor but what is the definition of actor?

Actor (n)
1: one that acts: DOER 2 a: one who represents a character in a dramatic production. b: a theatrical performer. c: one that behaves as if acting a part 3: one that takes part in any affair.
(Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)

An actor, actress, player or rarely thespian (see terminology) is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity. The ancient Greek word for an actor, ὑποκριτής (hypokrites), when rendered as a verb means "to interpret";[1] in this sense, an actor is one who interprets a dramatic character.[2]
(Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Trying to define as well as refine my acting is not only my favorite activity but it encourages me to live actively. It's a way of exploring the world with a specific perspective and purpose.

After trying (and failing) to get into graduate school right out of undergrad, I've had to think a lot about what it means to me to be an actor. Are you an actor even during the times when there is no audience or director? Are you an actor even when you aren't doing the act of acting? It kind of trips me up a bit but I have decided, yes!

I like how the first definition uses the word "doer". In terms of being an actor I think the actual "doing" is extremely important. Taking what you've learned or created and doing it! (As opposed to just thinking and talking about it). But this is especially tricky in terms of acting because unlike some visual art forms, performance art requires, at the very least, an audience.

Part 3 of the first definition kind of makes me smile to myself. If an actor is "one that takes part in any affair", then we are all actors right? It kind of brings you back to the whole, "world is a stage" idea... It's sort of trite sounding but also very true. We put on little plays and scenes every day. Anything from walking down the street to the act of seduction can be a kind of performance.

My favorite concept here, however, is found in the Wikipedia definition. And although the source is not exactly credible, I like the idea of an interpreter. Instead of just someone who "interprets a dramatic character" what if an actor was just an interpreter of the world? Someone who's job it is to take in all that is abstract and mysterious in this life and create something digestible out of it? That would be a cool job.

In any case, I am an actor and I will always be searching for a deeper understanding of what that means.

After I started working on this post a few days ago I flipped open a book on my nightstand and it happened to be on this very relevant page! I came across this excerpt from a Spiritual book called "The Golden Present". This book is a collection of talks given by Swami Satchidananda, a Yoga master and spiritual teacher. If you aren't bored by now, check it out...


Question: Is it possible to develop spiritually while working in a highly competitive and hectic field such as show business?

Sri Gurudev: We call it show business. Why? Do you think that show business is to show somebody else something? No. Show business is to show you something: yourself. It will teach you about the worth and the worthlessness of things in life. Yes. Show business means it's all just made up. It's all superficial. And when you learn that lesson, then you can use that same philosophy in your life. The whole of life is show business. What am I doing here? I'm acting my part. We're having a show. There is no superior and inferior cast in this. We are all needed to make the show. You have taken a part, so play it well. We are all one in spirit, but I am playing the part of the teacher today. You are playing the part of being a little ignorant. Behave that way. Don't get up and say, "I know more than you;" the show will collapse. When the curtain falls, we are all one and the same.

The whole world is superficial; it's constantly, constantly changing. Our relationships change, our situations change, our positions change, our names change. I was a baby, then I became a young boy, then an adult, then an old man. Changes, changes, changes. So what is the reality? The spiritual truth. We are all essentially one. That never changes. Where can you learn this truth faster than in show business?

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