Artistic Indulgence Time

To state that life imitates art is to state a cliché. But clichés are so because they exist in truth, and there is no more truth at this moment than the fact that life does indeed imitate art. And vice versa.

It’s odd. Every serious (as opposed to comedic) role I have had since graduating has at that point in my life had some corresponding relevance to my non-actorly life. Or else, the role has provided me the opportunity to work through some shit that’s been going on in said life. That’s not to say that I actively indulge myself in using the theatre as a cheap psychologist (I have one of them already), and I certainly do not advocate the practice, but there is something to be said – as an intuitive actor – for using the stuff that’s going on in one’s outside life to inform one’s onstage performance. Acting Class 101, I know, but sometimes we have to be reminded of the obvious.

I’m certainly finding that at the moment. I’m currently performing in an Adelaide Fringe show called Awake, written by my artistic comrade-in-arms Fleur. There was a lot of hoopla surrounding the circumstances in me getting this role, but trusting that things always work out the way they must in this funny ol’ Universe, here I am, acting in this role which has some uncanny correlations to my outside existence.

Ellen in Awake, with Justin Batchelor Photo by Sarah Walker

Ellen in Awake, with Justin Batchelor
Photo by Sarah Walker

You remember the ex I told you about in a former post? Well, he’s pretty much a musical genius in my mind. He would protest that claim, but for a 24 year old, he has a huge amount of musical knowledge and skill, and has the potential for career brilliance in the years to come. Now, I grew up in a very musical family, and I consider myself a musician – far less than I am an actor, but a musician nonetheless. I have two older brothers, both musicians for a living, and both highly skilled in their professions. One brother, Hiran, is one of those ridiculous people who can pick up an instrument and pretty much work out how to play it within five minutes. He and Karl, my eldest brother, live and breathe music, far more than I. Much like the ex.

Thus, although I’m a pretty darn good actor, I’ve always felt a little below par as a muso. In comparison to these virtuosi in my life anyway. And who am I playing in this Awake play? The wife of a brilliant composer and musician. The wife who met her husband at a music conservatorium. The wife who considered herself a musician until she was overwhelmed by the magnificence of her husband’s talent. And all she wants is for him to see her, mediocre talent and all, and to think she’s something special. She wants him to remember her. So yeah. Art imitates life. And my life, connected as it is to everything in this glorious and complex Universe is doing a very good job at allowing me to see that my human weakness makes for a very interesting exploration of my characters. It also allows me to have a little bit of a cry for my human failings, ’cause I’m allowed occasionally to do that.

Thanks art. You rock.