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Friday, December 3, 2010


I was at the gym listening to Stars play a concert at the 9:30 club in D.C. After the show, Bob Boylan of NPR interviewed the band. As I was treading away on the elliptical trainer, Torquil Campbell, their lead singer said something that resonated with me on a really deep level. He spoke of a kind of faith in a way I hadn't really thought of before. He said,

“It’s an act of faith I think. You know, Just like any theatre, any play, or any piece of art. It’s an act of faith. You have to have faith in the receiver that they’re going to extend, you know, they’re going to suspend their disbelief and go there with you. And you have to have faith in yourself that it’s worth saying. You know? And if you can keep that little thread floating in the air, of faith, through the course of the gig, it’s a beautiful gig. And it seems light as air you know. But if it comes down to Earth then getting it back up again is a hard thing to do. So it’s really just about having faith in it being a good thing to do with your time, you know.”

The first thing I thought was of yesterday when I found myself acting very loudly and really grinding the words in my mouth as I acted. And I could feel myself doing it but wasn't exactly sure how to stop it. But then, toward the end of the show, I said to myself very consciously, "Carson. Just say one or two lines at the volume and speed you'd say them to a friend in the room with you right now and see what happens." And when I did, I felt the room close in. I felt the attention intensify. I felt the response grow.
And I was so happy that I'd done it, but I wasn't sure exactly what I'd done. I mean, sure, I'd switched from condescending Shakespeare "acting" to a more honest mode of "living" in space with people watching, sure. But I'd also done something else that I hadn't named. So I was in a really receptive place when I heard that interview and heard Torquil talk about having that kind of "faith". I think what I realized, listening to the interview, is that because these audiences aren't typical theatre goers and because they haven't paid an admission price (and frankly because at the first homeless shelter we went to people would just get up and walk out on us!) I didn't have faith or trust in our audience's desire to hear or watch our story. Also, because some of the rooms we've been in have been full of buzzing fans and vending machines, I didn't trust that they could even hear us, let alone understand us. And yesterday, while I didn't couch it in those terms, I came around a corner and began to have a bit more faith in them and in my own ability to communicate with them more authentically by communicating with fellow actors more authentically. I feel fortunate to have listened to that interview yesterday to have Torquil put words to a feeling that had already been going on inside me all day.
So today, as we head out to the Boys and Girls Club in beautiful Newark, NJ, I'm excited to keep the experiment afloat and the faith alive. I'll trust that they're present, listening, aware and that I don't have to work so GD hard to keep the feather in the air.