Riding the Ox Home 13

“There is something blasphemous in talking about how Buddhism is perfect as a philosophy or teaching without knowing what it actually is.”  Shunryu Suzuki

 Acting, like Zen, is experiential.  You cannot talk (or write) about either without losing something.  That is why it may seem so strange to be reading a book on both together.  It is easy to say, “He gives us a reason to throw out his thoughts and his words.”  But you do not need a reason to reject this book.  You just have to put it down.  I can list a hundred different reasons for you to stop reading.  I can only give you one to continue.  Something makes sense to you.  Maybe you do not know what it is.  Maybe you do.  There are a thousand books on acting.  Most of them are credible in one way or another.  Is there something in this one that strikes you as funny, truthful, or meaningful?  It really doesn’t matter what I write.  All that matters is your interpretation.  And that is all that matters in acting also.

I have a confession.  The older I get, the less I know for sure.  The only thing I am certain about is that my life changes.  Each of those changes build a better me.  So who I was ten years ago, I no longer am.  The same is true of five minutes ago.  So how can I talk about Buddhism or acting when my perceptions are always changing?  How can anyone be sure of anything?

One way to attempt to solve this problem (in acting) is to be a part of every production you can.  It is not necessary to have a leading role or even a minor role.  Having a role is enough, and I don’t just mean as a performer.  Working backstage can be just as important to your growth as an individual, if you view it as a learning experience.  Watching how other actors approach their roles, asking questions, and discussing the play can be invaluable to your development.

So you need to know what it is and the only way to do that is by constantly being involved in the art.  I have been in the same play several times.  Every time I do it, I learn something new about the character, or how to interpret the role, or how a director, works or how our society changes its perception of the play.  The play grows.  I grow.  The audience grows.  This is the wonderful thing about the theatre.  Movies remain the same.  Live theatre is always changing.  We must change too.  So before we talk about the theatre, we must live the theatre.

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About oxrider

Mr. Winter has written novels, books of poetry and short stories, and books on acting. He has written over three dozen plays, winning the S.C. Playwright’s Festival. His inventive theatrical work has been seen in the US and Europe. A.F. Winter has been acting, teaching, and directing, for over 30 years. He created a theatre which worked with at-risk youth giving them positive alternatives in their lives. Please visit his website at AFWinter.com. View all posts by oxrider

2 responses to “Riding the Ox Home 13

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