Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Actor and the Casting Director - Fay Wolf and Sara Isaacson on Compassion from two different points of view

Fay Wolf and Sara Isaacson have been doing a series of videos I've really enjoyed called "The Actor and the Casting Director." They're really funny, and they manage to discuss some pretty important issues in the context of casting and acting.

In the course of this entry, which they kindly created for Adventures in Compassion, they talk about self-compassion, presence, negativity and sabotage.

Listen to Fay talk about working on the tv show Numb3rs and managing to be completely present in a scene. How she's not doing it in order to get something else, but she is simply there in the moment.
"This is what I'm doing. I'm not here so that this can be a great thing to put on my reel...."
Ade quod agis. Do what you are doing. As Thich Nhat Hanh said,
"Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life."
By being present, even in a scene on a long-running TV show, Fay allows herself to fully enjoy the moment, and give of herself. She's being truly compassionate to everyone around her by doing so––not driven by the ego that would tell her, notice me, notice me. Instead, she's serving the other actors, the director, the crew, the writers, and the show at large. She's making something available to the audience that would be distracting if she were focused on herself. And simply doing so can bring her joy!

Here's Eckhart Tolle from The Power of Now:
"Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are cause by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence."
And by caring for that one moment, by being compassionate in that moment, something great is possible. Here's Eckhart:
"The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for."
Hey, I get that she's talking about an episode of Numb3rs. But she's taking responsibility for that one moment, and if she can manage to do that there, imagine what's possible as she takes on other roles.

Sara, as the casting director, observes that she often sees another way of looking at work from actors:
"I wanna audition so that I can like be on TV shows so that I can like, update my status on Facebook saying that I just booked an episode of something."
That's entirely about ego, about grasping for status. The Buddhist term dukkha, which is roughly translated as "suffering," or "stress," comes from craving; it's the Second Noble Truth. You wish for things to be a certain way that they are not. We wish for money, and when we have it, we worry that we will lose it. We wish for good health, and want it to always be that way. Whether a wish for status (even the Facebook kind) or material things, or the wish that we not get older, or get sick, or die, all suffering comes from desire. We wish for things that are naturally impermanent to be permanent. Here's Thich Nhat Hanh again on the topic:

"If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent. It is because you believe things are permanent. When a flower dies, you don't suffer much, because you understand that flowers are impermanent. But you cannot accept the impermanence of your beloved one, and you suffer deeply when she passes away.

If you look deeply into impermanence, you will do your best to make her happy right now. Aware of impermanence, you become positive, loving and wise. Impermanence is good news. Without impermanence, nothing would be possible. With impermanence, every door is open for change. Impermanence is an instrument for our liberation."

Think about it: if you're doing the work to get that brief hit of status, that quick jolt to the system that comes from being able to tell people "I got a job," or "I'm on a talk show," or "I'm on the cover of a magazine," then the moment that has passed, we're simply back to being junkies looking for another fix. When you're basking in the glow of your freshly updated Facebook status, you're immediately mourning its impermanence. Fay's comment points out that we can simply enjoy the moment we're in, and be compassionate to ourselves and to others by doing so.

Fay goes on to talk about how having that compassion for ourselves creates an impact:
"Let's have compassion for ourselves and own the fact that we are all awesome... you're an awesome casting director, I'm an awesome actor, and if I don't wholeheartedly believe that about myself when I'm walking into an audition room, how in the hell are you gonna think that?"
Sara, the professional, answers it simply: "I won't."

Thanks, Fay & Sara!!! Make sure to check YouTube for their latest videos everyone! *

1 comment:

  1. Wow. This is really healthful advice. It's good to be reminded that we all need to be present in the moment. Everywhere i've gotten in life well has been an outgrowth of a sincere presence in my current circumstance. But as you climb, you forget that sometimes and then you wonder why you're not as happy as when you had less"success." The success is in the moment. Not the laurel leaves and the accolades. Thank you for the reminder.
    CLyde McDaniels