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Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Friday, April 22, 2005
 
Obviously, I do acting so that I can escape myself. This seems to be the motivation behind a lot of my favorite actors. They get to leave themselves for a couple of hours and do things that they would never willingly do in public (because for an actor, the stage is not public. It is a very intimate, private place that allows us to reveal our desires and secrets). One of my favorite local actors has been described as "the kind of guy who gets his face pixelated in 'Cops'."

But then he stands on stage and immediately commands your attention. When he recites Shakespeare, it's like he's been speaking it his entire life. Then he steps on stage and you say to him, "That was really good," and he replies, "Your MOM'S really good!"

Then there's my favorite actress on the local stages, who is a remarkably sweet woman. Her speech is very quiet and her manner is shy and introverted. She constantly doubts herself and kindly apologizes for the smallest things. Then you put the lights on her, and it's a complete transformation. Her voice booms and her eyes are wild, psychotic and near-hypnotic. Then when she exits the stage and you compliment her, she quietly says, "Oh, thanks," then shyly puts a hand to her face and leaves.

That kind of switch does not surprise me. What surprises me is how little it takes at times for the personality to change. Today, I was reading Eric Bogosian's "Talk Radio", a brilliant play from the 1980's about a talk radio host who hates his callers almost as much as he hates himself. The lead character of Barry Champlain is loud, brash, vulgar and unsympathetic.

I was reading this play in ten-minute increments while retreating to the bathroom at my work, and suddenly I found myself returning to the desk, listening to the Sex Pistols and using the phrase that I almost never use: "Whatever." I wouldn't be surprised if one of my supervisors came up to me with a special project and I replied with, "Life's too fucking short, man. We're all gonna die, anyway, so get that shit out of my face. Next caller!" I wanted desperately to be Barry Champlain, telling people off to their faces while giving a hard middle finger to the rest of the world.

But then a few minutes ago, I passed by a window and looked at the reflection of myself. Yes, my hair is a little messy (as per usual), and my shirt is wrinkled, but I have all of my buttons buttoned in the right places. My tie is well-tied and held in place with a tie tack. My slacks are cleaned and pressed. I'm not Barry Champlain. More like Barry Manilow. I pushed my hair down a little and returned to my desk, being good ol' Jeremy again.

Why the obsession for us actors to leave our personalities? Why is it that we do not like to be ourselves, and scoff at those who simply recreate their personalities on the stage? Why do I give the name "Lance" when ordering a Jamba Juice? Why did I used to create fake people on MySpace, then kill them off? Should I just enjoy myself (enter your own masturbation joke here)? Perhaps that's what acting accomplishes. It helps me appreciate my own life. After doing a show, I can say, "Well, thank God I'm not THAT guy," and then enjoy the life in which I lead.

My afternoon break came, and I walked out to my car in the parking lot. I spotted the BMW SUV parked next to me and, for a brief moment, wanted to knock the fucking windows out of that gas-guzzling, abbreviation-heavy monstrosity made by a company that still has yet to apologize for using Jewish slave labor to make their vehicles during World War II. Then I took a breath, went into my car, curled up in the driver's seat and slept for fifteen minutes while listening to public radio.

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