And then there’s the acting….
I have always been, and am now, an actor. I had been an actor, stopped for a while, became an 8th grade English teacher – during which time I started acting again as a hobby, then retired early to return to acting.
Since retiring from teaching, I have over the past eleven years done some acting – a little theater, some film, a little extra work on tv. I’ve gotten my SAG and Equity cards. I’ve gone from a full head of hair and a clean-shaven face to the shaved head and goatee look I sport now (each look has gotten me work).
I’ve done less paid acting work than I have done training and learning and expanding my craft. Learning has always been my joy. Having really only done stage work, I dove into investigating film technique and commercial technique – in classes, workshops, intensives, “meet the casting director“ things. Additionally, there was and is learning opportunity in the jobs I manage to book. And as much as I learned, I unlearned even more. I rid myself of bad habits and tricks. I became far less #Kabuki (there’s a story there I will one day tell).
I’ve auditioned hundreds, maybe thousands of times. I’ve gotten work, but I’ve more often walked away not having been cast.
Depressing but I wouldn’t change a thing.
So this past Monday I reoriented and re-introduced myself to myself via Career Day at The Hollywood School P.S./I.S. 178, where 5th & 6th graders responded to “Lon Blais – Actor”. The kids were great and honest – to a fault. “How can you be an actor? I don’t know your name.” “Ever been in any horror movies?”
After their initial disappointment in my not being a star, I was able to explain to them and myself my life as an actor. The joy of the daily grind that being an actor is.
And as I speak to the kids, I realize I am doing what I want – warts and all – in the way I need to do it. At the time I need to do it.
And the kids are eating it up. Me the teacher – again teaching – about me the actor.
Amidst this new work and world of a writer – less slave to the keyboard than helpless sailor drawn to the siren’s song that is my play. More than I would ever have known, @BoyOnTheBureau calls to me – while I m watching tv, while I’m listening to music, while sleeping – or now more commonly not sleeping it seems. I find myself fixated on turns of phrase, of idiom and syntax. Any time someone else’s story echoes my plays themes, I worry that I haven’t captured the unique voice of my very unique yet apparently universal story.
And I try to imagine what authors who put their words into the hands of producer’s and directors and actors have done before me. the many who have entrusted their meaning into my hands. I feel blessed and terrified. I am playwright… and producer… and director… and actor. All at the same time.