Friday, July 02, 2010

The invisible man

When I was doing theater, I always liked having my friends show up to see it. But it was a double-edged sword, because I was also kind of nervous about it. For two reasons. First, what if the show sucked? Inviting people to a show is like hosting a party -- you feel responsible for everybody's good time.

But the other issue was that friends know you really well. They know you in real life, off stage. They're intimately familiar with all your standard parlor tricks -- your mannerisms, habits, tics, "go-tos," etc. Not to mention your personal history, who you are, where you're from and what's inside.

It feels odd, and a little bit ... dishonest maybe (?) ... performing in front of them. As my sister always said, "It just feels like you up there, not some other character."

So yesterday, after my grand announcement on Facebook of the forthcoming book, I went back through the chapters, reading them over, seeing what I had. And this time I did it by putting myself in the shoes of various friends, contacts and colleagues. Second City instructors, fellow actors, clients.

And that was tough. I had more than a couple of wincing moments. I've tried hard in this book, as I do in daily life, to be honest. To not exaggerate my accomplishments, to not make stuff up wholesale for the sake of a good story. But still I worried about how these people who really know me will react.

Am I overblowing the acting thing? The Second City stuff? I mean, of all the great actors in town, who the hell am I to be talking about acting and drawing lessons from it? I have to keep reminding myself that my particular expertise is the communications/PR stuff. That's been my primary career since college. That, I hope, is the real value at the core of the book. And the acting stuff is more like a hook, a way of getting in.

Some of the references are to my actual experience on stage or in front of the camera or in class. But much of it is from the perspective of a plain old fan of film and television. I need to be sure to make that point in the intro. That I don't consider myself Helen Hayes. And maybe go through and make some adjustments to the language here and there.

And also probably research a few of these references. Like when I talk about The Method, or presentational style of acting or sketch comedy form, I damned well better be right, and not just shooting loosely from the hip with opinions. Which is my tendency.

Anyway, I've got to have another look, because yesterday afternoon I had a brief moment of feeling like this thing sucked.

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