Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Value of an Actor

A couple of weeks ago, I did a reading of a play written by K J Dwyer, a former actor now writer for the Huffington Post and playwright who resides in Argentina. The play was one of the finalists for the MetLife Nuestras Voces Playwright's Competition held at Repertorio EspaƱol. I read the protagonist role of Eva, an 18 year old who goes through an emotional and painful journey as the truth about her family unfolds. As an actor, the role of Eva was a dream because it was a fully fleshed, layered and complex character that I immediately connected with and was able to fully immerse myself in. Although to be honest, I don't think that would have been possible had the writing itself not been great, especially given the little amount of preparation/rehearsal we had for this reading. In any event, I want to share an excerpt of an email K J, who traveled from Argentina to New York to experience the first reading of his play, wrote to me afterwards:

"I just wanted to thank you so much for your lovely interpretation of Eva. Writing is a very lonely process and it's often difficult to hear characters when they speak to you only through your imagination. It was so inspiring, emotional and instructive for me to listen to Eva through your prodigious talent. You are a truly gifted actress and I am so lucky to have had your participation. You made the most of what I gave you and allowed me to hear my work at its best. In that way, it was instructive for how I need to revise going forward. Whatever shortcomings were my own and your beautiful, touching performance allowed me to focus laser-like on those changes I still need to make without feeling like 'if only she had played that differently . . .'.
I can't thank you enough for your commitment to the reading. Your attention to the conversation we had ahead of the rehearsal was evident. You took every note to heart and, again, gave me everything I asked for. That's an exceptional gift in an actress -- to truly take direction and internalize it the way you displayed. It should stand you in good stead throughout your career.
And this is not just me talking. All my friends and associates who attended commented on your beautiful performance. Congratulations, continued success and hopefully there may be future life for this play."

Now THIS is the kind of work and appreciation that I know every actor strives for and it really touched me because it made me understand my value as an Actor and truly believe in it. It also affirmed the value of a great Writer. Again, I don't think I would have been able to experience the realness of Eva in such a short time if it weren't for K J's writing, which instantly put me in her world and connected me to Eva. I am so happy that I was able to give K J what he needs to move forward with it and hope to someday see a full production on stage because the play merits it.


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