Friday, May 22, 2009

Edoardo Ballerini on listening - "One of the things you're trained to do as an actor.... is listen."

Edoardo Ballerini, is an extraordinary actor and one of the stars of the upcoming film Life is Hot in Cracktown. I talked to Edoardo yesterday about how thoughts on compassion and he started talking to me about listening. I immediately started thinking about that night's two hour Ugly Betty finale, the fancy camera I was holding and whether I should upgrade it, what kind of mileage BMW motorcycles get, and whether I should get an iced coffee or a regular coffee on my next trip to Starbucks. Then I thought, wow, this guy is going on and on, maybe I should pay attention. He might have something to say that makes me look good!

I'm kidding, of course. Edoardo had so much to say that was so insightful, that I split our talk into two bits. This first piece is on listening:

Edoardo pointed out to me that one of the fundamental skills necessary to being a good actor is listening. That it's fundamental to any actor's training, and, as Edoardo pointed out, the skill of listening is "exactly what's needed [to cultivate] compassion."
"We spend most of our lives and days I believe with assumptions about the world around us... especially as the years go by you get a little older, you think you know how things work, you think you know what somebody's going to say to you or what they mean by something, and we stop listening. We stop listening to our friends, our partners, the people we work with, the random person walking down the street, we just kinda shut everything out. The skill of listening... allows you to let go of yourself, understand where somebody else is coming from."
This is strikingly similar to Zen master Shunryu Suzuki's words in his classic book, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind:
"When you listen to someone, you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions; you should just listen to him, just observe what his way is. We put very little emphasis on right and wrong or good and bad. We just see things as they are with him, and accept them. This is how we communicate with each other. Usually when you listen to some statement, you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinion. If it agrees with your own opinion you may accept it, but if it does not, you will reject it or you may not even really hear it.... a mind full of preconceived ideas, subjective intentions, or habits is not open to things as they are."
Since listening is so fundamental to acting, and it's so fundamental to cultivating compassion––accepting another as they are, with no "right or wrong," it's no wonder we keep finding connections between acting and compassion.

Stay tuned for more on Edoardo's thoughts on compassion.

Thanks, Edoardo!


No comments:

Post a Comment