thi.nguyen

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why not?

so lately i’ve been defining myself by what i’m not or what i haven’t done/accomplished. i have no career, no love life, no money = FAILURE.  because i feel like a failure, i feel that i don’t deserve any good thing that might come my way.  i don’t deserve the love from others, i don’t deserve success, i don’t deserve happiness.

today i went to church. it wasn’t out of obligation, it wasn’t because i was feeling super pathetic about my life and i needed comfort, it was more of a fleeting thought, of why not? you don’t have much else to do. so i came in not expecting anything.  and maybe that’s why today’s lecture really got me.

the pastor was talking about identity.  you know from my past posts that identity is a huge issue for me.  who am i? what am i supposed to do with this life that is given to me? what is my purpose? and the pastor straight up said, your identity is in god’s love. god has bought us by sacrificing jesus to the cross.  god paid the price for us. and because of that, he loves us no matter what. isn’t that such a relief from having to define ourselves from what we aren’t and what we haven’t done?

ok, so if my identity lies in the FACT that god loves me, does that absolve me from any responsibility? that i can do anything?? as soon as this thought entered my mind, the pastor answered by saying that identity without virtue is adolescence. kinda like that rebellious teenager that is unconditionally loved by his/her parents.

what about vice versa? the pastor said that virtue without identity is morality.  yes, you have a sense of right and wrong, but without the identity of god’s love, you are weighed down by the imperatives that you are commanded to do, consequently you won’t be able to do it. so it goes back to me feeling like a failure.  let’s say that my imperative (my calling, my purpose, what i’m commanded to do) is to do acting.  but then why am i so neurotic about it?  because i forget that the imperative comes from identity.  that without knowing identity (i’m using identity interchangeably with god’s love), the imperative that i am called to do is impossible.

with both we are encouraged to grow maturely in god’s love and to become who we are. 

so why is it that i keep forgetting that god loves me?  because i don’t trust him yet. i believe in him.  but i lack trust in him.  there’s a huge difference believing in god and trusting in god.  the pastor told a story to demonstrate this point: he told us that he is really good at throwing knives.  he said that at an event, he proved this point to his friends, when he had a dummy pinned against a board, and he threw knives just around the perimeter of the dummy, never hitting the dummy.  and his friends cheered and exclaimed, “wow, you really are great at throwing knives! we believe you, we believe you!” and he responded, “great, so which one of you will be the dummy next?” and no one volunteered.

out of fear is why i lack trust in god. for sure. hands down. i definitely fear what i don’t know/understand.  why trust in that? but at the same time, i trust human beings.  i put trust in my coworkers, my friends and my family.  they are all human beings.  they are all NOT PERFECT.  so if god is not human, is not part of this human race, but is way above our limited human minds, perhaps even considered perfect, why not trust in him? why not?

 


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Stanislavski is so meta.

So I’ve always been a fan of Christopher Nolan’s films. Momento blew my mind. The Dark Knight is one of my top 5 films of all time. Anyways, two years ago I read an awesome interview of him here (the interview just made me respect Nolan even more). One of the questions that was asked of him was, “what process do you use working with actors?”. Nolan mentioned a book that his uncle (who’s an actor, John Nolan) told him to read which was, An Actor Prepares. I picked up the book and finally finished it today.

DGA Quarterly Interview Chris Nolan Memento

An Actor Prepares, is a book about acting written by Konstantin Stanislavski.  It is written as a diary of a fictional student named Kostya during his first year of training in Stanislavski’s System. As Kostya and his fellow students go through the class, Tortsov, their teacher and theatre director teaches them the components of the system and provides examples to strengthen his message.

The system which Stanislavski describes is a means both of mastering the craft of acting and of stimulating the actor’s individual creativeness and imagination. Stanislavski’s goal in life was to formulate some codified, systematic approach that might impart to any given actor with some grip on his “instrument”, that is, himself.  He believed that an actor should approach a role as directly as possible and then see if it “lives”.  And if the actor connects with the role and the role is brought to life, then no technique or system is necessary. Essentially, the actor does not so much become someone else as he becomes himself.

The book is pretty dense and one should read the whole thing as well as his other book, Building a Character, but I’m only going to go into a tidbit of his system that really spoke to me and that is: Magic what if. (I actually don’t live by the whole system as an actor.  I take a little bit from what I’ve learned from Stanislavski, Meisner, my teacher Loren Chadima, improvisation, my life etc.).

I went to a Q and A after the screening of American Hustle and Jennifer Lawrence said “I’m a horrible liar.” Some people think that lying and acting is the same because you’re dealing with fake circumstances. Here’s the thing,  I think Lawrence is a great actor and i believe her when she says she can’t lie.  Why is that?

A performance should be believable for an audience so that they may appear to the audience as truth.  One of Stanislavski’s methods for achieving the truthful pursuit of a character’s emotion was his ‘magic if.’  Actors asked themselves questions like, “What would I do if I found myself in this character’s circumstance?” This technique allows actors to transcend the confinements of realism by asking what would occur “if” circumstances were different, or “if” the circumstances were to happen to them.

One of the most popular shows on television is The Walking Dead.  Obviously the actors on the show have never experienced a zombie apocalypse, but how are they able to portray it in the show? Possible what ifs questions could be: “How would i feel if my beloved was bitten by a zombie?” or “What would i do if i was backed up against a wall with a crowd of zombies coming toward me and I only have a sword in my hand?” By answering the what ifs questions, actors find the truth for their character.  It’s not lying if it is true for that character.  It’s not fake, if that actor is truly feeling that emotion simply through superimposing themselves within that given circumstance.  The scene works because they are truthfully feeling those feelings.

So meta right?