“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
And this is a beginning. Could be an end as well, but I’ll try and be optimistic.
This is about me obviously (a bit narcissistic perhaps, but welcome to the internet). It is also about acting. About how our tricky love-hate relationship started and why it continues to compel me towards a life in the performing arts, despite slightly more sensible notions occasionally popping up in my subconscious begging me to get my head examined.
This probably isn’t anything new to [hypothetical] you. “Oh, it’s another one of those angsty teenagers that wants to go into acting,” you might say. “He’ll be done with it in 6 months.” Fortunately I am no longer an angsty teenager, merely an angsty young man, and the passion hasn’t died yet, not even 4 years after appearing as Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing, my first play. Determined to pursue acting after that first exposure in high school, I auditioned at a couple of B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Arts) programs and managed to get into the college and program of my choice. Now I am just about to start my junior year of college, and I finally feel like I have a foundation for where to go next.
There’s a lot more of course, but I’d better save something for a future post, otherwise I’ll run out of material rather quickly, but here is the crux of the matter: as much as I love acting and the performing arts in general, it has always and will always be a great challenge for me. Like any other actor, I have to contend with disappointment and rejection, an incredible amount of self-discipline, and of course taxing long hours of rehearsal and preparation and at the end of the day only to receive a questionably below-minimum-wage salary and a dubious or nonexistent promise of future work. Of course, in the current economy, many others can relate to a similar element of uncertainty. But in acting, you are also exposed; you are exceedingly naked. On top of financial insecurity, an actor has to face emotional vulnerability. Emotions are to be controlled and manipulated at a whim, often changing their dynamic many times within a single performance.
As is the case for every other actor (regardless of how effortless some make it look) this requires unrelenting concentration and practice. I always knew this would be difficult, but I also have another dynamic that most actors do not have to contend with: I have Asperger’s Syndrome.
For those of you who do not know, Asperger’s Syndrome is on the higher-functioning side of the Autistic Spectrum. Individuals with ASD (Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder), who sometimes like to be known as “Aspies,” often find social situations stressful and overwhelming as it can be hard to read body language, facial expressions, and other social cues (to this day I sometimes have to remind myself when someone is just “joking around” with me in case I take things a little too seriously). Fortunately for me, I have had the benefit of an early diagnosis, amazing parents who have been on the ball since day one, therapy, medication, and (I would like to think) an incredible amount of self-determination on my part to not be limited by a condition that many consider “socially debilitating.”
I pursue acting, not because it is the easiest thing in the world to do, but because I love it and what it is continuing to do for my life. Acting is perhaps the best therapy I could ever have received, because it allows me to break outside of myself and the social expectations placed on all of us as “normal” members of society. Instead of hiding away behind a computer for a living, I wanted to put myself out there. So far, it has been a hell of a ride, but I know it’s just getting warmed up.
How’s this for a beginning? More soon I think.