Well, folks, I have good news, bad news, and more good news.
The first piece of good news is that I am once again working with a truly amazing group of people on three phenomenal plays. Actually, this hardly qualifies as news at all, since that has been the case each of my five years with MSF.
Now for the bad news: I'm a terrible actor. Seriously. I'm not being modest, or looking for positive reinforcement or praise. Right now, two weeks into rehearsals, I am a lousy actor. If you're an actor yourself, or an artist of any kind, you might already know where I'm going with this. If not, allow me to explain: there's a wonderful quote from the painter, Henri Matisse: "Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle the artist wages with his limited medium." In this instance, the limited medium is me. And oh, how limited it is.
This is the point in the process where I try to do too many things at once, and fail at nearly all of them all the time. Between trying to get off-book, support the style of the play, pursue my character's objectives, incorporate the director's notes, set up my scene-mates, keep to the truth of the moment/scene/character, and above all, listen, well, I feel like I'm riding a unicycle on a tightrope in a high wind while juggling live fish. What, you've never done that? Anyway, it's a mess. I'm a mess.
Each time through a scene, though, there might be one of those things I don't screw up; one little piece of truth or heart or funny that I can add to the loose choreography that will eventually become Sir Anthony or Bottom or Falstaff. And, I'm one small step closer to no longer being a bad actor. And that feels good. "A consummation devoutly to be wished," as it were.
It's a double-edged sword, of course, as I hate making my marvelous comrades endure each of my spectacular failures, just so I can find another minute piece of my character. But they are, on top of everything else, a forgiving bunch, and I couldn't ask for a greater group of playmates with whom to take the trip, bumps in the road included. They are talented, supportive, generous, and above all, kind. And they let me know that my bad acting days won't last forever. (I told you there was more good news.)
So: let's do this. (Hopefully, a bit better each time.)