(Title of Composition: Isa’s Hand With Knick-Knacks)
Started work last night on a confrontation scene between the one who’s my main character (at least, at the first draft stage) and the piece of human refuse that’s her brother-in-law. I find this display of doggy toys perfect inspiration to conjure up some of my finer memories of such individuals. The whole point being that, despite the horrific things they will say and do, they themselves are often more like alien life-forms than anything else. Can you hate an alien life-form? Fear, yes; loathe, definitely. But hate?
A bit of Sanford, maybe? Then a poem. Then, spend some time with Isa who’s leaving this morning. Then back to the draft.
“What does it mean that you can’t be an actor and a gentleman?”
(student answers): “You’re allowed to do things onstage that you don’t do in life. You’re permitted to express yourself on stage and don’t need to hold yourself back as you must in life.”
“What does it mean, ‘to hold yourself back?'”
“To censor yourself. Society sets the standard, but that has nothing to do with acting.”
“That’s true, but what do you mean?”
“Acting doesn’t have anything to do with everyday life.”
“It has to do with truth,” Meisner says.
“It has to do with truth, yeah” (the student says), “but it doesn’t have anything to do with conventional life outside the theater.”
“That’s true.(says another student). I’ve heard Maureen Stapleton at a party talk like a cultured woman. Who’s she kidding? That’s not what she lives by on the stage.”
“Well, they’re two different things.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you bring your special self, your actor’s self, to your work, and it’s different from the way you are outside.”
“You bring your real self, right?”
“Your truthful self. That’s why you should never pick material in response to our ambition or your intellect. You should pick material that comes out of your gut. Unless you need a job,” Meisner adds, and the class laughs.
Sanford Meisner On Acting
(I specially like the distinction made between ‘real’ and ‘truthful’.)
This poem, after visiting Henry and his wife yesterday afternoon. They hardly go outside anymore, and spend their days bickering at each other from their respective pools of aches and pains. At least, with visitors, they turn their attention elsewhere for a little bit. Madame took Isa and I on a tour of her life through knick-knacks, while Robert and Henry thundered back and forth against City Hall, Madame so-and-so and other outside sources of aggravation.
This is the old country,
A land of statuary herons,
Where chevron squads of pelicans patrol
The glittering green shallows of the gulf.
Where color schemes are chiefly melon,
Flamingo pinks, and tropical pastels.
Where all day single-engine planes buzz by.
Their block red-letter advertisements scroll
Across those beefy, milk-white cumuli:
EAT SHRIMP AT RUBY’S-BY-THE-BAY.
RAW BAR AT JACK’S. ALASKA KING CRAB CLAWS.
ENJOY WORLD FAMOUS KEY LIME PIE.
Ponce de Leon, is this that paradise
You sought, whose tonics might restore
The potency and thrust of youth? The truth
Is that the old grow older here.
Their bones go frail as balsawood.
Strokes slur their speech. Their eyes become
Diminished lakes. We watch them dodder
Down grocery aisles. We see them heft
Their chronic coughs and aches along the beach.
Their sorrows all metastasize – they must –
And yet we seldom say a word
Or spend much time imagining ourselves
In thirty years. Shivering and sweating.
A lukewarm spittle on the chin.
Wide-open hours of waiting and regretting.
The air-conditioned room of our hotel
Looks out on swimming pool and sea.
We’ve paid good money for the view.
We seek the boredom that they know so well.
Back home, it’s thirty-three degrees,
The March rain changing steadily to sleet.
We’re only here another day. And if tonight
We eat at Ruby’s-by-the-Bay
Or Jack’s what difference will it make?
The beach boy, having closed up shop,
Has faced his bath chairs to the west
In regimented rows. Beside
The ponderous and receding tide
Three toasted, golden teenage girls relax.
They’re sitting cross-legged in the sand
and posing for a picture that a fourth
intends to take. Each tosses back her hair
Then feigns a fashion model’s runway stare.
Cotton blouses. An almost chilly breeze.
That blush reflection of the sinking sun.
Just listen to them shriek and laugh.
Let memory and love arrest them there.
Daniel Anderson, from Drunk in Sunlight