Monday, June 28, 2010

The Semmering

Have you ever heard of The Semmering? It’s an area of the Alps that covers parts of both Italy and Austria. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. And as those places generally are, it’s a beautiful part of the world. The vistas, valleys and the clean fresh air are like nowhere else. Even the water tastes incredible.

The only way to see The Semmering at ground level is by train – The Semmering Railroad. There just aren’t roads in this area, you have to sit back, relax and see it the same way everyone did when it first opened to travel. The people who designed and built these train tracks back in 1848 were incredibly smart. They knew there needed to be a train that took people from Vienna, Austria to Venice, Italy. It would be great for the economies of both cities and everywhere in between. Most importantly, it would be good for the people themselves. People work hard all the time, all year long and their souls need to relax, they need to be transported to a magical place. And this railroad would take them someplace people had never been.

Since this would be the world’s first true mountain railway, there was not a train in existence that was able make the trip. But they built the tracks anyway. They built them because they knew, someday, the train would come.

You could say that being an actor is a lot like being one of the people who built those train tracks in the Alps. Us actors spend a lot of time preparing ourselves for the possibility of a magic moment somewhere in the not too distant future. We train ourselves, whether in conservatory or in class. Even if we went to conservatory we still take class. We practice at home, we rehearse and perform in plays in hole in the wall theaters, some of which are smaller than dorm rooms we’ve lived in. We act in short films. We write and perform in web series. We act in student films. We have private coaching for auditions. We produce and perform in showcases, concerts, and benefits. We sign up for open mic nights, we go to mixers, networking events, tweetups. We do targeted mailings and in person drop-offs. We do all these things in hope that it will get us noticed by people who hire actors, or at least noticed by people who can put actors in front of people that hire actors. And if that one thing we did does not accomplish that goal, we do another thing. And after that, another thing.

It could be easy to begin to feel lost, to feel like you’re going nowhere, that all of your work has been for nothing. Or worse – that it has all only been something for you to do. It would be easy to get frustrated, angry and self-destructive because you’re looking for more and/or faster results. Or even worse – it would be easy to lose your confidence in your abilities. It would be easy to question why something hasn’t happened yet, or why it hasn’t happened again.

It would be easy to lose yourself.

There are times when things slow down for whatever reason. For example, we don’t have control over the fact that business slows down in the summer. We can’t control the fact that most of scripted television is on hiatus, that there are less commercials shooting in the summer. Instead of falling prey to your fear; just keep working. Rehearsing. Training. Getting better. And instead of focusing on what has or hasn’t happened, try focusing on the growth you know you’ve made as an actor.

Remember how you got better because you were in a play for six weeks and played a character that was more difficult and demanding of your talent than any other character you’ve played? Focus on the fact that you got better, and then find a way to build on that growth so you may become an even better actor.

Remember when you surprised yourself? Seek to figure out what you did, and resolve to find a way to do it better. Find a way to be more spontaneous, with stronger, more specific choices, while you are even more present. Trust me, at the very least – you won’t have time for negativity. When you’re working to get better, and it all comes from a place of positivity and acceptance – you’ll give yourself even more room to grow.

And while you’re doing that, keep up the targeted mailings and the in person drop-offs. The auditions, plays, short films, open mic nights, concerts, benefits, the mixers, networking events, tweetups.

All the while, never forget that our art is noble. At the very least, our art is for the people who work hard all the time, all year long - whose souls need to relax, need to be transported to a magical place. At most, our art deeply moves and inspires people.

So when it gets tough, just remember The Semmering. Just like them, we have to lay the tracks before the train can come. Work diligently and lay the foundation with an expectant optimism. Nose to the grindstone.

You’ve got to have faith that the train will come. And when it does, you will be ready.

[© MMX MD TOTAL all rights reserved]

14 comments:

Sabrina said...

Thanks for this post, I've been needing a little inspiration lately. And this post gives that reminder that you must just keep going even when you feel like you are running really fast and moving nowhere.

Anonymous said...

I miss you and this made me miss you more! Thanks for managing to inspire old friends more than 3,000 miles away!

[soccerboy] said...

Thanks to you both! Sabrina - you're right: we have to keep doing. And to "Anonymous," who are you? Are we friends on facebook??! I'm glad this ispired you!

To be fair, I wrote this for me to remember as much as I wanted it to be heard. :)

renie oxley said...

love this!

[soccerboy] said...

Thanks, Renie!

Rachel said...

very nice. very true. thank you!

David August said...

Thank you.

R said...

: )

[soccerboy] said...

You're welcome, guys. Thanks for reading. And thanks for the love!

David Handelman said...

A very good perspective, passing this along on Facebook.

kate said...

new to your blog via marci liroff's FB post. thanks for this timely reminder. look forward to meeting you on set. :)

Risa Bramon García said...

Love this. Well put. I'm posting it on my facebook group page if that's alright with you - Risa Bramon Garcia Master Class and coaching...

[soccerboy] said...

Glad to hear so many connecting with this post! Feel free to link on twitter, post on Facebook. Though I'd appreciate it if you'd link back to the original post's page instead of copying/pasting. Thanks!

Bill Gillane said...

Thank you. I have posted this on my FB page as well. Great words, you inspire.