Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm Not An Artist Anymore

I have a confession to make: I'm not an artist anymore. 

I've always been an actor. I've always needed to perform.  For all intents and purposes, I've been doing it as long as I can remember. 

I remember the moment my mother looked at my father after I had finished performing yet another little "skits' and said to him, "we should get him into theatre".  I remember my first class, my first presentation, and my first show.  I remember the audience.  The applause.  It appeared as though this was what I was and had ever been. 

I was 9 years old. 

I continued down the path, gaining experience and praise until at 14, I was invited to join a local agency.  The first parts came, and then the first series: "The Adventures of the Black Stallion".  Three years we shot - in Canada, France, and New Zealand.  Some amazing times and memories were made.  I loved working.  I loved earning money.  The show ended after 78 episodes, and I chose to stay in Vancouver rather than head south to LA, to sun, and to bigger and better.  I picked home over away because I had spent so much time away, that I wanted to make a home.  I thought I would grow here.  Other series came and I worked a lot, but plateaus were reached.  A friend of mine has said that Vancouver is less a springboard and more a diving board.  And although many exceptions have proven the rule, in my case it seems that the rule proved the rule. 

I'm happy with and proud of what I've accomplished, but the artistic element in me has remained unfulfilled.  To be fair, I have brought it on myself.  I've long regarded what I do to be the business that it is.  I'm not in the scene anymore.  I checked out years ago.  I'm not a very "actor-y" actor and am a solitary one at that, and with a family my priorities have changed.  But I do feel that I may have done myself a disservice.  I don't feel connected to what I do anymore by doing it.  It is - in my opinion - supremely difficult to be artistically fulfilled as an actor in the film industry without having long term projects - at least the fulfillment that I want. 

My artistic connection to acting is maintained by the teaching of it.  I've been instructing people in the ways of screen-acting for some 19-ish years.  I've been accused of being a good teacher, but I would argue that I'm not such a good teacher as I am a good director.  I can read people, notice their foibles, tell when they're lying.  I love the psychology of acting and bringing students to new breakthroughs.  I love showing people how deep and difficult acting is when done right and how brilliant and rewarding it is when submerged in it. 

I'm approaching forty now.  Sure I'm aging gracefully, and while my children make me old before my time, my wife keeps me young with her own youth.  Age tends to sharpen one's focus though, and I've realized I don't want to be just a businessman actor, I want to be an artist again.  I need to stretch, to shake off the rust.  I need to go back to my roots - I need to go back to the theatre.  But I also need to go my way.  Honestly. 

I love acting.  Always will.  I also love directing.  This is why I've decided to start a small - some might say tiny - theatre company in the new year.  Original material.  Brilliant young actors.  A long journey.  I have no idea of the details (yet) - only that it needs to breathe.  Bigger and better.  Always bigger.  Always better.