An Artist's Life
This year has been an experience that I thought would be interesting to chronicle. I wish to share my thoughts, anxieties, hopes and wishes.
In December, my agent arranged an audition in NYC for the play Death of a Salesman, being staged at the Virginia Stage Theatre in Norfolk, Va.. I wasn't surprised to see so many waiting their turn to be seen and heard, and many that looked like me, all vying for the same role...Charley, Willy Loman's neighbor and best friend. I felt confident and assured, I knew my lines and had more than a few choices under my belt to explore this character. No ego intended, I blew the doors off, I chose honesty, sincerity and the knowing of being a life-long friend for my character. Right choice. The reader (a person who reads all the other lines of the play for an audition) was excellent, we immediately struck a chord with each other. After I did my thing, the director didn't say a word, he just sat and seemed to look right through me, for what seemed an eternity. All he said was, "Would you promise me to deliver my eulogy when I make my transition? Just as you did just then for Willy? I knew I had a call back right then. As I walked up 8th Avenue my cell rang, it was my agent, Bus, they want to see you again early tomorrow, are you available? Certainly. The call back went better than the first audition, I felt electricity in the room after I finished, everyone felt it, I could see it in their eyes. I'd nailed it.
I got the call later that day asking if I'd like to accept their offer to do the role. The show would run from January until March, what a way to start off the new year - employed.
Death of A Salesman:
I came into rehearsal that first day off book (no script in hand), a thing I learned from my early days as a hungry New York actor, from my veteran actor friends. When you don't have a script in hand, when you're not asking for lines, you can concentrate on exploring your character in-depth. Your choices become more concise, your movements are based on a knowing, and you are reacting not ACTING.
My character became the friend of Willy from childhood experiences, that matured into us being grumpy old men. This friendship I saw was written in Arthur Miller's words, what friends experience...old friends...jealousies, slights, rages, unspoken anxieties, all those things that glue two people together. The things that make friends for life. The fact that we were of different races never came into play, the friendship overrode all of that. That was the larger acting choice, and the choice the director wanted. It led to many moments that were full of tension, the thing that makes acting dramatic.
The audiences loved our characters, the players loved saying all those words night after night, we loved the standing ovations we recieved every performance...validation of the work we all put in.
I took my computer to Norfolk with me, I have Netflix on it and I watch documentaries daily. I saw a wonderful documentary, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, it saved my life. I was over 270lbs. and at 6'-2" that's a big man. "Bubba-Junior" sized. I had to do something. I came back home and started a juice fast that lasted for over 25 days, a fast of only "live" food that lasted another 25 days, with no processed food, no bread, no sweets, nothing "white" - rice, potatoes, grits...that kind of thing.
I hit the pool and swam every day, logging more than 8 miles a week in the water. I lost an amazing 35lbs., a few inches in my waist, belly, thighs and lost those "man-boobs". My blood pressure went from 135/85 to presently 122/65. I feel like a young man at this ripe age of 57.
The Seed School: