A Public Letter to an Actor, Chelsea. . . but, really, to all actors:

You’re nervous and terrified. I get that. But you’re not afraid to be pushed and challenged. You’re not afraid to grow. So what are you afraid of? Oh, . . . the simple act of getting beyond yourself and putting it out there for the world to see, to judge, to make comment on? Well, I have a few questions, and answer them honestly.

What is most important? That you take action or that you succeed at it? That you are making choices or that the choices are approved of? That you practice bravery or that you practice security? That you do something interesting or that you do something correctly? That you share yourself with the world or that the world comes to you?

Each of these things is important in its own time and in its own way. But when it comes to creating something out of yourself as an artist,– as someone who has something to say to the world, someone who has something of herself to give– usually, the first choice in each pair yields better work and more complete growth as a human being.

There is a time for caution, but it isn’t usually in art. In making choices about finances, lifestyle, education, even relationships, sure. You need a lot of security, a lot of circumspection. But in terms of artistry, you need ACTION, OWNERSHIP, BRAVERY, INDIVIDUALISM, and a SHARING. These five things are the recipe for YOUR Miss Fischer in our space in our town in our time. No one elses.

But you also need to begin to grapple with the idea of worthiness. You have to think yourself in possession of something worthy of being created and shared. Your Miss Fischer is worthy– no matter the Miss Fischers that have gone before and no matter the ones that will come afterward. She will be smart, funny, passionate and at times dogged and appealingly irritable. How do I know that? Because I know YOU. And your Miss Fischer doesn’t exist without YOU. She exists within you and through you. You are the instrument by which Miss Fischer is carved. You are the materials out of which she is carved. And she needs ALL of that material to be available. We cannot separate you from Miss Fischer.

You see, Chelsea, I see a woman who is worthy of so much. You are infused with all the colors of humanity and you are at your strongest, most appealing, most interesting, when you let those shades and hues bounce all over the canvas. When you try to hide them or downplay them, you become a grayscale version of who you truly are. Humility is a rare grace, but– like security and circumspection– only useful in certain areas of life. To feel worthy, you simply have to allow yourself to be all that you really are at that time and to say, “Yes, there that is. . . now how can I use it?” You are worthy, no matter what anyone else may think. No matter what you, in fact, think.

Once you understand that you are worthy of being in the rehearsal room and on the stage, you will also understand that this worthiness REQUIRES you to offer up everything you have within you to the role. All if it has to be on the table for the bravery and the individualism and the action to take hold. And when it is there, and when it is embraced, ownership and sharing follow suit. Once you begin to offer it all, and not worry about being thought “sympathetic” or “likeable”, or to try to control the outcome, whole new layers of art and play open up to your work.

The rehearsal process is about finding out everything you have within you to create this character as only YOU can play it. And that’s what I’m there for. . .to help guide you to Miss Fischer and Miss Fischer to you. And then I get out of the way at the last moment. I cast YOU because I see something in you, perhaps something no one else sees, to play Miss Fischer. I want YOUR Miss Fischer and no one else’s. So you must feel worthy of giving us all that gift, the gift of you in Miss Fischer. . . because if you don’t do it, I will get the wrong Miss Fischer and that’s no fun at all.

I’ve seen you be brave. I’ve seen you pull from parts of you that no one sees. You can do it again. I promise. You cannot fail if you’re going at it with the right perspective.

This, like so much else about art, is about doing something to discover yourself in the world.  So long as you’re doing it to offer yourself generously to others and know you’re allowed to do so, you’re golden.


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