This quarter, Lourdes Martinez and I are acting opposite each other in a one act play about two little Mexican brothers and their journey from Mexico to the United States. This is the first time I have worked on a two-hander, played a little boy, and switched between two language seamlessly within dialogue. I am incredibly excited and feeling very blessed to have collaboratively created this opportunity for myself and Lourdes. Yet, here we are two weeks into the rehearsal process and since I have been wearing multiple hats throughout this process, I would like to take some time to analysis and process how it is that I work as an actor now that I have had so many years of acting training.
First of all, I have now realized how completely terrified I am because this piece is extremely close to home in a way that I have not experienced. This story hits a deep part of me that I have not yet learned how to reckon with and yet, now that I know that, I am aware and ready to dive in.
I am realizing also that for this piece specifically, I find my initial impulse as a way into the text is to work on character development from the outside in…that is, to study the movement and gestures of young boys, and learn the dialect as soon as possible. I find that I want these two things to be in place so that they will inform my choices and serve as a lens in which I respond and work off my scene partner. An 11 year old boy is a thing that is very far from myself, thus I feel as if I want to explore the creation and character development in this way. I think, for whatever reason my gut is telling me, that this will really help me then with the psychological process the character goes through in the play.
I am seeing too that what the play is and what it is doing is something that Lourdes, Rhyver White, our director, and I had to discover over these two weeks and that was an incredibly essential part of telling the story. This realization may seem super obvious but what I am learning is that it is throughout the actual rehearsal process that the true identity and purpose of the thing is discovered and revealed…you don’t necessarily know that going into every project. Having an artistic vision is one thing, but listening to what the piece wants to become and adjusting accordingly is a whole other thing–and that is the work we have been doing these past two weeks. Now that this essential piece of information has become much more clear, I feel as if I can move forward in a more focused manner in my acting. We discovered that this piece multi-layered and that all layers must be firing to make the entire thing work. We are discovering those layers now, defining them, developing them, and then later, putting them together.
My process as an actor does not exist in a vacuum as much as I may want it to. I must take myself into stock, the world, my collaborators, and the world of the play as a living breathing eco-system that my body will then co-exist in. The journey of this piece has only just begun, and I am certain it is going to change my life as all good parts should.