Trying To Get On Top Of It

“At around twenty-eight, twenty-nine, or thirty years old, after my kids were born, I figured I’d hit some plateau that was adulthood—where I believed things would just stay level for about forty years while I would do great work and have interesting experiences—then rather uneventfully I would begin to decay and die. But this was just not the case. I was not on a plateau. I was descending, tripping, stumbling, and burning. My whole being, or personality or self or whatever is supposed to be the seat of me, or the soul behind my eyes, was being boiled away in a giant iron cauldron like the flavor leaving a carrot.” –A Bright Ray Of Darkness, novel by Ethan Hawke

For the actor…

There’s a huge gulf between trying to get on top of it and being on top of it.

How much time is spent on the summit of a mountain versus the climbing up and down? Let alone the preparing for the climb.

“Trying to” involves struggle and obstacles. Internal and external. Real and imagined. It’s the struggle that’s fun to play and riveting for the audience. We wanna watch you go through some shit.

Resist the natural human impulse to want it to be easy. To be on top of it.

Get down in the muck. Litter the text with obstacles. Give yourself behavior that’s difficult to do.

The harder you can make it on your character to accomplish the objective, the more memorable your character will be.

P.S. – The pic above is from the original production of the play “K2” by Patrick Meyers at The Arena Stage in 1982. Legendary production designer Ming Cho Lee built an incredible set.

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