Better

So I have moved back to Chicago. I’m renting a nice one bedroom condo. It’s definitely the nicest apartment I’ve ever had. It has central air and a washer/dryer in the unit. I feel almost spoiled now. I think it would be hard to go back to most of the closets I rented in Chicago and New York.

You might ask, why am I here? I’m here to get better. I feel out of shape as a performer. As an actor, I never really nailed down any particular process. I’d get a script, memorize it, go to rehearsal, try to absorb the blocking and direction, and try to figure out the best way to say my lines. It’s not a great process and it doesn’t seem to take advantage of all that early training which encouraged me to work off my partner. So the first priority was to find a studio, go back to class and figure out a process–a real process that starts with a script and ends with a full, dynamic, grounded and improvisational performance.

I’m in my third class at Black Box Acting Studio and I feel like I’m on my way to that goal. In the first two classes, they use exercises that are drawn from Meisner training, mostly repetition and independent activity exercises. In the next level, they bring in viewpoints and punctuation walks. Their process is a hybrid of things. It’s good practice and I feel a lot closer to that goal of a repeatable process.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve gradually fallen out of shape. I’m still well below my New York average weight, but I had lost enough ground, that I decided I had to do something about it. I’m back on a diet that is similar to the one I used a long time ago, when I first exercised seriously in my 20s. And I’m back in the gym. I’m reading the Four Hour Body by Tim Ferris and taking ideas from there. For instance, yesterday was my first day doing kettlebell swings, an exercise he recommends.

I’m doing other things too. I completed a few classes at the Annoyance, and now I’m in writing classes at Second City. I’m also taking guitar classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music. This upcoming year, I’m thinking as my DIY MFA project. My longer term plan is to start focusing on getting cast in some plays by the summer or fall. I want to get through one more class at Black Box and find a good scene study class that I can use to practice my process.

As usual I’m having trouble fitting everything in. I want to work on everything at once. I realize this is not the optimal way to do it. Eventually, I might narrow things down to writing or acting or improv again and focus my full force on that for a few years. But for the next 3-6 months, I’m going to continue down this path. It gets overwhelming if I try to think too many moves ahead. I want to keep focusing on what is the very next step and put my energy there. I’m going to trust that it will take me somewhere interesting.

4 thoughts on “Better

  1. Botto

    I would love to listen to a podcast about your experiences with viewpoints and Meisner for improv. Please interview yourself!

  2. Christina Fleetwood

    Hi Kevin,
    I’m a student at Black Box as well-one step behind you it seems, as I am currently in B3. I just learned Punctuation Walks, and because I always want to know the guts and details of all things, after class I made a beeline to my PC to tap Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube for what I thought would be the usual plethora of information. I was expecting to spend hours clicking on links and links and links within links, but weirdly this time there was … nothing! I thought I remembered the instructors at class saying Kushner devised the Walks for Angels in America. I searched every possible criteria imaginable, but the only thing that came up was your blog. Mind you, this lack of info doesn’t really affect how I feel – I still find the process fascinating and unexpectedly powerful. I guess I’m having a hard time seeing myself doing the walks at a play practice though. (At least not without piffing someone off! lol) Maybe that’s not the point. I haven’t gotten that far to know yet. I will admit to being a bit disappointed that I couldn’t get at least one YouTube video of someone doing this. I mean, I learned how to sew a rolled hem and make a miniature parachute from you tube. I figured for sure there’d be at least one person in his living room jumping on exclamation points and grunting to ellipses… (grunt grunt grunt) Ah well. I guess my inner voyeur will have to settle for another sword fighting video. My point in all this ? I just wanted to let you know it was a relief to see a fellow human mention this- its a very new and alien thing to me right now. So I hope you don’t mind me peeking in on your blogs here and there (or a lot). For someone who’s also riding the tempest on the SS Thespian, discovering your blog was like finding a secret treasure cove. Thanks!
    ~C

  3. mullaney Post author

    Christina,

    Good luck in B3. It was the most physically challenging level and the one where I probably learned the most. Punctuation walks were not my favorite part, but I have found them useful when learning lines. I know some people love using them. I like them, but am a little skeptical. The viewpoints exercises that make up the bulk of B3 have been very useful. Now, I just have to get myself cast in something.

    Check in at the end of B3, I’d love to know what you thought.

    Kevin

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