Welcome 2012! What is it about a New Year that makes everything seem possible again? I'm going to take a stab at a few resolutions -- not ones that are too big to attain (like this is the year I become famous) or out of my control (like getting cast on Blue Bloods).
Nope, instead I'm kicking off the year with a "Gladwellian" approach to making resolutions: I'm going to start a "positive epidemic." The me-myself-and-I team is launching a "virus" of "little changes that can make a big difference." At least that's what Gladwell promises in his book, The Tipping Point.
Here's my resolutions formula: take four actions every month - one each week - that are above and beyond whatever else I'm engaged in. The goal: to help myself become a better actor and person. One of those actions will be devoted to helping someone else fulfill their dream, acting or otherwise.
Will these 48 initiatives be enough to start a "positive epidemic?" Who knows, but I'm certain that each small step holds the potential to turn into something greater. I'll keep you posted on how things go; meanwhile, here are the four steps I have planned for January 2012.
Dig for gold. I'm going to find something unexpected, out of my zone and usual boundaries. And here's an example of what I mean. While on tour with an educational acting company, a stop-over in Hattiesburg, Mississippi coincided with a local renaissance fair --jousting matches and giant turkey legs, I'm so there! But it turned out to be an actual renaissance affair, meaning the local population was banding together to revitalize a community still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. It was so much cooler than women waving magic wands and men faux sword fighting. This was real life and local culture, with awesome down-home cookin', live blues and funk music, businesses showing their wares, craftspeople of every ilk - plus theatricality with a man in drag on stilts rallying people to "shake it and get down." And friendly! In a couple of hours, what I learned about Hattiesburg and the people of Mississippi made a lasting impression. And taught me a lot about what community, caring, and teamwork mean. My January goal: find another Hattiesburg-type experience!
Reach out to someone new. Check! Did this one already. If you admire someone's work, tell them! They could be accomplished or just starting out but doing interesting work. I have a theory that's been proven true over the past year. The more "successful" the playwright, actor, director, the more accessible - and more genuinely interested in talking and offering a word or two of wisdom. Recently, one of the deans of musical theater spent about 15 minutes talking to me about my career when others - way more important than I - at the event were clamoring for his attention.
Get thee to the theatre! Be in the know about what's going on, and jump on what sparks your interest - before it closes. Check! Thank you CSC for extending The Cherry Orchard! And what do I expect to gain from my theater hopping? Well, for one, a heavy dose of reality. Let's face it, it's fun fantasizing that you'd be way better in that part (we all do it, don't deny it) or maybe admitting in all honesty that you have a ways to go and more hard work ahead. I was fortunate recently to catch Cillian Murphy in Misterman, a one-man play written and directed by Edna Walsh at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. This was one of those theater experiences that truly rocked my world. Murphy played a multitude of characters, each one fully realized. I'm a fan of his film work, but my goodness, he is so meant for the stage! Seeing his performance inspired me to dig deeper and reach for more.
Help someone out. My "one for another" this month happens to be life-changing for an actor friend. I'm helping him by writing and acting in a play in which, during the closing scene, he'll propose to his girlfriend - for real! (Take note, romance isn't dead!) This is a full production - theater, costumes, audience and all. I'm truly honored that he trusts me to help plan this most important and wonderful day in his acting and personal life.
And my overall resolution for the year? "Keep hoping machine running," from Woody Guthrie's resolution list for 1942. Above all, never ever give up or give in. Be glad for what you've done and be eager for what's to come. I'm in an entirely different place from where I was just a year ago, and I couldn't be more excited to see where the next 12 months will take me - but one week at a time.