Friday 6 January 2012

Mask to Mask:
water under the bridge chokes me up

My shortcomings as an actor were that which prevented my becoming a better one: Too thin-skinned to suffer repeated rejection, I regularly left auditions with my intestinal fortitude exposed, swinging to and fro to the rhythm of my simulated stride. Even when I'd felt I'd nailed the test phase, no manner of excuse could lessen the extent to which an ultimate rejection felt personal, me being the person rejected, after all.

Granted, the reasons for not being picked were as often as not something I wouldn't've been able to change, yet, still, you cannot get good at doing the play if you never get chosen to do it.

Worse: Justifiable and understandable reasons for not being chosen have a way of feeding upon themselves, magnifying the undesirable.

I realize that there is little sympathy in life for the weak. Showing weakness is NEVER endearing. And since, as an actor, pretending is your business - you go in pretending to be strong. You simply have to present strength or you're dead in the water. Master the art of feigning confidence and you at least have a chance at a callback.

After some effort, I managed to get good at making the cut. The unfortunate result was never rising above being the second choice. As a matter of fact, for a brief period I kept pounding the pavement after leaving Chicago and I even got the following call from my agent here:
Agent: I wanna make sure you're available for all the shoot dates.

davidly: Um... sure. That's what I indicated on the form.

Agent: I know. It's just that I haven't been able to get a hold of their first choice. You're their second choice, so be ready; I might be calling you over the weekend, if I'm still not able to reach [the other guy].
I never heard from her again. Nor she me.

My sour grapes are pre-emptive
This is obviously learned behavior. Conditioning is hard to undo; if you don't want to undo it, impossible.

I think I need to clarify that last paragraph vis-à-vis retrospective sour grapes: Looking back on a negative result in a positive light is healthier than simply lamenting one's failures; thinking "It wasn't meant to be" or "I will learn from this experience", for example, is much better than convincing yourself that you didn't want that thing anyway.

But what if the thing that you learn, over and over again, is no matter how positive the selection process might have been, the ultimate rejection renders it lamentable at the very core of your being? Is it really sour grapes to have conditioned yourself to believe - that is, to actually believe - that it simply wasn't and, hence, will never be worth the effort? I mean, honestly, I just couldn't swim in that pool anymore.

Regarding the aforementioned audition: I'd long since forgotten it, and subsequently given up on not just that particular part, but the whole shebang. Then, they go ringing me up, getting my belly all aflutter. I even vaguely hoped for someone else's misfortune when I'd reckoned that that's what it came down to.

Every inch of the Earth's surface is a performance plank. But this play is just an audition. Ain'no legs I wanna break, so don't be calling me as your backup.