Archive for August, 2011

Work, work, work… with Rita Andreeva

August 8, 2011

Editor’s Note:  This recession has been very hard on many of my acquaintances in the art world; especially those in their 50s.  Even the poorly paid, entry level jobs are no longer available.  And when they pop up, employers hire the younger workers.  If you’ve done this and that throughout your life just to keep the rent paid while you’ve thrown yourself into your art  in hopes of having a career – it’s not so hard to end up on the rocky shores of destitution by the time you reach 50.  The facts are that most artists are ‘unsuccessful’.  Rejection comes with the territory from right out of the starting gate.  The meager aesthetic credibilty many achieve by their later years won’t even buy a cup of coffee.  And with nothing to show for it, life can be hard on the spirit.

Okay.  Here’s Where the Going Gets Tough…

Shuffling Off This Mortal Coil…

“The weird thing is, I’ve been dreaming about being in Hell or Heaven, commuting with dead people, like my mom, grandma, other people I knew. Like last night, for instance, I dreamed of being in Hell, visiting Augie and his cronies, hanging out at a closed restaurant. The place was extremely run down. Augie and his mafia cronies were lounging around, doing nothing. I wanted to order coffee and a pastry. They all scraped up a dinner table, set plates, but the food left much to be desired. No pastries – a little black patty is all we got on our plates. I poked at it, not sure if it were meant to be eaten. Everyone acted festive, talking up a storm. Guess they don’t get too many visitors.
These kinds of dreams were very consistent lately. Like every night. That is so strange.
I remember most of them, too. The one before last night was interesting: I saw the water rising, I stood there and watched over the horizon, I watched the water level rise and rise, and the last thing I saw was just water everywhere and the sun setting above the horizon. To regress, a while before the end part there were lakes overflowing, and I remember standing on the shore of a lake, saying, “Look how clean the water looks,” to someone. And that person was saying, “No, it’s still dirty.” And I said, “No, look closely: it’s not dirt – it’s weeds, it’s the marine life!” It was after that, that the water kept rising. I knew it was from the melting icecaps. It was blue and clear with green weeds flourishing. And then it was the final scene: water from horizon to horizon, and the sun setting over it. Last thing I remember in that dream were the rays of sun on the endless sea. The weather was good – blue sky. Hardly any waves.
Other times I dream of being in St. Petersburg, with my mom and grandma, and I argue with my mom, like I never dared to before. Other times I search for the truth…
Very strange. Why these consistent dreams? Am I dying?
If so, then I’m extremely lucky, to have such a transition. Shit, by the time I’m dead, I’d be mostly somewhere else. I sleep more and more. The other dimension is probably taking up more than 50% now. When I’m here I think I’m mostly here, but when I’m there, I feel like I’m mostly there. I’m not too sure about the percentages, since in that other dimension I can’t email you or call you, because you’re not there yet.”  – Rita

Photo by Carl Nelson 

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From the Editor’s Perch

August 6, 2011
I’ve Sweated This Out

 

Look at That Space Above Your Sofa!

“Every time your Editor posts a note the readership drops off.  So I’ve waited until we’re safely into the double digits before tilting these words at my latest windmill…

It has always seemed to me that one of the reasons for Art, is that it makes that space on the wall above our sofas look more interesting.  No harm.  The reverse of this, however, is that if you do purchase a work of Art to hang above your sofa – you do so because you would rather look at that Art than at a blank wall.

Which brings me to a criticism of actors which I make after directing on several occasions for the local stage.  Contemporary actors often seem to feel that if their acting embodies their character, then they have done their job.  But consider this for a minute in light of what I’ve said above:  The wall above your sofa perfectly embodies that wall.  A brick embodies a brick; a stone a stone…  The list, of course, is infinite.  Everybody you will pass on the street downtown perfectly embodies themselves.  Is everybody on the street interesting to watch?  Or are they interesting enough to PAY to watch?  …you’re right to keep a tight grip on your wallet.

A common feeling in the acting community is that ‘since I am good at what I do, I should be paid for it’.  The Producer’s reply to this demand is, “When you make me money, I will pay you money.”   This attitude among actors is a prime reason that so many fairly good shorts and films that get produced locally go nowhere – to the frustration of all involved.  The actors all feel they’ve done their job.  But by the producers benchmark they have failed.  And I think they fail because the actors have not recognized that they are in sales.  It is not enough to be a character; you have to SELL that character.  When you’ve sold your character, the person in the audience says to themselves, “I’m with THEM.”  That’s a fan, and that’s a paying customer. 

In most local films, I’ve seen very few actors who are willing to sell.  And when there is one who does, the character is so often so peripheral that there is no place for the audience to follow them to.  This common artistic mentality on the part of local actors seems to be the same with failed salespersons everywhere:  “ I showed up.  I worked hard.  I presented the product very professionally and credibly to lots of people.”  These hopeful ‘salespeople’ never realize that they weren’t selling; they were having conversations.  Selling is making people act.  Selling is making people want to DO something.  Selling is WANTING and ASKING and CLOSING.

I recently saw the film, “Aliens and Cowboys” (or “Cowboys and Aliens” – one or the other?).  In the first portion of the movie I was surprised that Daniel Craig struck me as the better actor, and that Harrison Ford seemed to measure up short by comparison.  He just didn’t quite feel right in his character.  Daniel Craig is so strongly carved as to feel almost feral, and he certainly was riveting to watch as the tough, violent, lone Westerner.  But in the latter half of the movie, as soon as Harrison Ford softened and produced his famous wizened, half-smile – my immediate reaction was, “I’m with him.”  Harrison Ford knows how to sell himself (and his characters).  There is a reason for his box office success.”  – Editor

Photo by Anonymous


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