Transformation and Possession in the Art of Acting
Letter to Aaron Lehmann --
There is a sense of elemental take over or overlap or i suppose the best term is transformation.
elements combine with intellect and inspiration and imagination to actually create a form of existence. it is to me the meaning of 'plastic arts', where form is not real but mos def believed. and in that sense becomes real for a period of time and space. time and space being the most malleable elements of stage and theatre and acting and the building of art. art being the thing that is within itself and no where else therefore all is possible and believable.
of course one has to know what one is doing. doesn't one?
i have decided to try to organize my trip for return in time for our showing at Anthology. it is such a tremendous accomplishment to have work shown in that space. it means a great deal. it makes me feel accomplished and accepted and simultaneously like an outlaw..oh i love Anthology Film Archives and i want to be there for the film and for the audience and for myself - and of course you and temar too....you beauties you...
and a couple days later i write again to you:
a part i played in which i was responsible for a few atrocities: when the film was done shooting i came home and declined an invitation to a friend's baby shower. in the film i had been responsible for the murder of a pregnant woman. i was a queen and had ordered my henchman to bludgeon her belly and drown her, and i had watched it. so when i was done shooting and home i felt it would not be good for my friend's unborn child for me to be at the shower. i just felt it too strongly - that the reality of the images was too strong for a being so malleable as a fetus developing. i think if i had been the pregnant one i would have felt different perhaps. perhaps even confident that the images are movable in myself and that i could have done the same role pregnant myself and that it would have done no harm for any developing unborn in my own body. who knows actually. i would have to make that call in the moment as this is truly conjecture. but i did feel infected, affected in a pathology, and consequently in need of transformation back to my self before the images.
i spent about 10 days taking salt water baths and after that i was back to my old safe self. but when i look at the footage i am so taken with how real the moment is and how much i believe in my own or rather her, Gertrude's, sin and only a matter of time, demise.
when i was a teenager and beginning actress i felt possessed by the role of Cassandra in The Trojan Women. it may have been the first dramatic role in a full length classic play for me. i was 15. my journal is full of prayers to various greek gods, mostly Zues as he seemed the most powerful. my mother was in hospital and i was praying to Zues to keep her alive. she lived so maybe there is a god, a god of gods. or maybe it was coincidence and any god would do or maybe they are all the same and inhabit us or maybe - and this is what i really think - maybe when we are making human beings for stage and film we are really making reality that is full of image and plastic form and since we are involved with time and space too what we are capable of is the creating of belief. the creating of belief. and that has to do with just moment of course but life and reality is made of moment and belief is from our childhoods, our favorite game. so we are playing and playing in a light but also deadly serious way - as if all life depends on it.
elements are real, are tangible real things, are elemental as they are called elements. in the use of elements for acting i am transformed even tho mostly i am creating image of element out of other elements and out of imagination and out of time and space and body. nevertheless i am possessed and transformed. and it takes work to transform and simplify back to a recognizable me. salt water helps me and drinking water. and rest. and allowing the problem to have its own time to disintegrate. it's rough because you feel it. the sobriety of the sensations is rough. we want to ignore it or jump into another form to change it but resting is the best choice; while nourishing the simple self. this is my form of exorcism. the transformation back to clarity and self is like coming down from those dreadful pills one takes to combat a large pain or for recreation. i have never liked pills for recreation because of the time it takes to come down which i find more dreadful than worth the 'recreation' . to each his own i know but i like a high that comes down without all that dread.
i feel like that is what i am doing now with this time i am in. staying away from the studio for a time, staying away from that woman for a time and resting and writing and swimming and tai chi and moving around and reading and eating well but simply and getting back to my corners. building my own recognizable matrix. rebuilding it. and recognizing it.
when i left the cult at 22 i was a bit frozen of memory as in i had little or even none. no memory of my self. no sense of self. i had a sense of what i wanted which allowed me to get out but no sense of my self. 6 months later i was looking in the mirror as one does when brushing one's teeth or something. i was not intending to look. it was accidental but then i stopped and looked. because i recognized something. then i looked and recognized myself. i saw someone i recognized and in that moment i realized i had not seen her in many years. and when i saw her i knew i remembered her and that person i was seeing for the first time in probably close to 7 years was the one i could trust and live inside of. and it is that experience that i know to be truth and not possession of self by an other but just self.