I spent this whole day reading three dramas: ‘The Glass Menagerie’ by Tennesse William, ‘The Caretaker’ and ‘The Lover’ by Harold Pinter. Actually I did read them all a few years ago. But this time, somehow the atmosphere is more suitable than ever.
I just finished performing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream last sunday. As usual, every time a grand performance is done, I suffer a severe melancholy. As if I have to say goodbye to a good friend, a lover, a part of me. No, its more than that, I feel like I have to leave a world with its characters and settings.
Suddenly my world change:
reality comes back differently. So different than when I left it to do the acting and character developing process for the play. And coming back to reality meaning that I have to leave the imaginary world of the play. The world that me, my director, my co-actors, my production team, artistic team and all the personnel of the theater group have opened.
Suddenly and abruptly, it is closed. Closed and unfinished. I become a ghost in that world that we built and left.
Maybe this is what Stanislavsky said. That being an actor means that you will be reborn and redie; being born and die has the same feeling.
Of course, every residue of every play I went through feel different. The melancholies are different. I am a different man crossing a different river.
If in the past, I face the melancholy by getting drunk or travelling, this time I face it by reading. Because when other plays left me with dissatisfaction, Midsummer Night’s Dream left me a thirst. The worst thirst ever. I am not dissatisfied. I am thristy.
Midsummer Night’s Dream did not give me much–compare to other plays I’ve been. I did try to challenge myself, I did have a preconception of what to do to make it harder, more memorable, more orgasmic. But in the end, I have to adapt to my fellow workers: most of them are untrained, inexperience, and have a decade distance than me. I failed to understand how they think, how they learn, how they act and react. And I failed to teach them like my teacher teach me or I teach my students.
I think its because they are not my students. They are my fellow classmates. We have one teacher, and he is irreplaceable. And he too, sometimes complain that the new generation does give him a hard time. Harder than the old ones.
But we, my teacher, my batch and seniors, do realize that its not these newbies fault. If the group want to survive we have to embrace the new generation, we have to lower our standards and expectations. If not, then the group will–not vanished, at least as long as my teacher still around–the group will ceased to have a decent regeneration. A few actors and production team will not suffice for a 30 years old theater group.
So Iowered my standard and expectation. I Stopped thinking too hard. I did this to maximize the whole performance, to embrace my fellow actors and crew. Because only by doing this I can make everybody shine. Only by doing this the performance will work out fine.
A friend of mine, a very talented young actor and director told me this:
“You know, for Indonesian community theater, you should never aim for the best. You should aim for the average. And by average I mean the best for ALL. Because theater is a collaborative work. It needs synchronization and harmony. So take your role not only to make you shine, but others shine.”
And yes, I reduced all that must be reduce, improved all that need and can be improve, and prohibited all that should be prohibit. I did my best to extend everybody quality and I stopped when I thought it was best to stop. Then I lowered myself.
I was satisfied with the performance. I really do. Because it’s a proof that I am a different man crossing a different river. That I have achieved a state when I need to shine less to make others shine. That is, I think, what’s being a good actor really is.
However, it leaves me the thirst. Thirst is the melancholy. And no alcohol, drugs, or travelling could heal that. So today, in one day, I let go of Oberon and I played as Aston in The Caretaker, Richard in The Lover and Tom in The Glass Menagerie. My stage is in my head. It is perfect. Platonic. Perfectly Platonic.
And at the same time pathetic. That’s why they call it Melancholy.
So I am aiming at a bigger challenge. I don’t have to look for it, its right in front of me: I have two films to finish, another play to perform and an album to record. I don’t have to look for trouble. Trouble loves me so much it haunts me every second.
Life fucks us all, and so far my life…
My life fucks me real good.