Monday, August 16, 2010

The Amphitheater

This summer I was at Kenyon for the afternoon reading on the quad, and strolled down to see the Bolton Theater. I once performed on that stage and as I entered from the lobby expected to whisk back to Shakespeare. My experience, however, was not that of the past at all... but of the latent and enthusiastically potent possible future.

When I was in Santa Cruz I used to ride my bike north of town along the coast to a secluded beach tucked into the cliffs along the Pacific, and wandering north from the most public part there was a hidden and very private enclosure that was just stone and sand and sea. It always seemed to me a perfect stage, the proscenium at water's edge. I guess it is actually backward because the rising walls that would be audience seating was at my back. It was the roaring approval of the waves in front of me.

Shizuo was practicing his ancient Japanese dance about Urashima-Taro, and I thought the perfect place to film the story would be on this beach.

Anyway as I stepped onto the Kenyon stage and looked up into the seats it was silent. No echo of the past. Only unlimited joy of what can be. When I was an actor I had not enough experience of life to have anything really of significance to say. I think young actors only have sex appeal. They draw from the audience a libido and, only by chance of a fortunate playwright, any sort of authentic inspiration.

I have a life to drawn on. I have unlimited creativity. What I can do today is so much more than I ever had to offer when I was on that stage.

When I was memorizing Ballad of the Good Cowboy 12 years ago I felt that I was not old enough to play the role because, no matter how excellent my acting might be, I would be a young man impersonating men of greater years. And that is always false. In this play of many characters it is easier for an older man to adopt the life of a younger man for those scenes.

Today I could do it. Today I can do it.

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