When my scene partner texted me the night before class to let me know she wasn’t feeling well and was not going to be there I knew what it meant: I needed a monologue. Monologues are a total pain in the ass. Everyone sort of knows that. But we also accept that they are a part of the game. A musician has to know standards, an artist has to sketch, and it is probably a good idea to have one person pieces in our back pockets so that when we get an audition that calls for a one our worry is booking a studio to warm-up on time rather than memorizing a whole new piece the day before.
I’m ended up settling for an unmemorized piece from “Completeness” by Itamar Moses. It’s not like I haven’t had time to learn it; the play was recommended to me by a friend four months ago and since then has been sitting on my shelf. But I took time that morning to go through the piece and identify places where I could personalize the material.
Personalization is a never ending source of amusement for me. Now that I have more of a handle on the technique I am often surprised by what comes to mind when I am seeking experiences in my own life to personalize the experiences of a character. A character with a crush on a shy girl gets linked to someone from High School who I haven’t seen or heard from in 8 years. A character admitting to a lover that he has psoriases becomes telling an ex that I cheated on her. A government office building a character works at is turned into the first apartment I lived in here in the city. The experience is individual and varied and I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone, but I have felt my work deepening in ways I never imagined over the last few months. I can honestly say I am a different actor than the one who stepped through the studio door a little over two years ago and better for it.
The last minute monologue went well. My character from “Completeness” needed to express to a new girlfriend that he has a fear of commitment, and on this day that became anxiety I felt before a recent cross country flight. I tapped into it quickly, along with a few other personalizations, and then let them work in me. And ultimately it was better that the monologue wasn’t memorized; it forced me to take my time and check in that I was truly connected to myself and to the partner who I was talking to.
Everyone in class looks forward to hearing two words. I have had friends and teachers tell me over the years that I did a good job but somehow the warmth with which Cay says “not disgusting” after a particularly good day always sticks with me a little longer into the rest of my week bartending, running, and going through the motions of building the life of an artist in New York. After my monologue she smiled and said those words and I believed her. Not because I had been watching myself and knew it was good, which the old Tim might have, but because I had done my work to the best of my abilities right now.
Finally, here are some photos I’ve taken in the last few weeks that I haven’t been able to use for specific posts. It would be a shame to let them go to waste: