by Eugene Buica
Artistic Director The Acting Corps
Just ask anyone in town about their favorite Los Angeles acting school, or their favorite acting approach - and you will find devotees, disciples, and practitioners of every acting technique, from the Meisner Technique, to the Strasberg Method, to the Michael Chekhov System and so on. And that’s all well and good, because every acting coach in every acting studio will tell you without hesitation that his way is the ONLY way to show business immortality and personal creative fulfillment in front of an audience or the business end of a film camera.
So what do you do? You came here to act, and you will choose a course of study, but who do you choose? How do you find a Los Angeles acting class, or a Los Angeles acting school? And how do you tell the genuine from the fraudulent, or the old time theater school teaching an acting technique intended for the New York stage circa 1950 from the corporate California acting school promising you contact with agents, managers, and casting directors with the not so subtle subtext of “we will make you famous.”? How do you tell all these from the real thing?
The answer, like it or not, lies with you. When pursuing the craft of acting a lot depends on what you want to get out of all this and where you want to be at the end of the day. In other words, why act? Why? There are other things you can do with yourself. Is acting a need to express your authentic self? There are other forms of expression. Is it a need to help humanity? There are more practical ways. Is it a need to receive love on a global level? You can always be a rock star. So why act?
The answer is as personal and unique as every one of us who takes this most seductive plunge and it will only come with time. Certainly along the way some will concede that acting was only a diversion, a procrastination of sorts until they settle down to the serious business of a mortgage and a steady paycheck while some will go into writing or directing and find great creative satisfaction there.
But if you have a fire in your belly and only acting will put it out and only acting will fan the flames- (we are not always looking to put out our fires, sometimes we require them to consume us)- then embrace this art form and you will know. You will be guided to the right teacher, the right school, the right life choices, you will all of the sudden begin to listen to the previously ignored yet profoundly authentic voices in your head which have been trying to guide you all along. And you'll always be in good company, if only in the company of your own personal truth.
A jazz musician of some renown once said: “Will your music be enough when you have nobody to hold?” It’s a hell of a question. Should you answer it in the affirmative day after day, year after year, you are one of the lucky few (a mixed blessing) for whom this is not a passing fancy or infatuation - it is indeed your life’s work, your very reason for hanging around this troubled sphere.
And around this time two things occur. One, you finally know who you are, you are free - Henry Miller talked about everything falling away, all lies, or artifice, or notions of ego, he knew he was finally an artist. And the second thing that occurs is that you suddenly feel like you are in some sort of trouble. After opening in my first real play and having some success the director came up to me and said “You are no longer a civilian, now you’re in trouble.” What could he mean? Now I finally know.
He was referring to the trouble of creative responsibility. It is the forbidden fruit and there is no re-entering the Garden of Innocence and lounging about – no one has stamped your hand at the door, you are gone for good. You have chosen between truth and rest and now that you have made that decision, you will have only truth, and should you choose rest, you will discover that it is no longer available to you. It belongs to civilians, and what a beautiful thing that is.