Marlon Brando: Forever In Transit, Part Five

Via Telephone/1990

I imagine I am supposed to be inured to things that are said about me, but I'm still angry and upset that people think I no longer love acting--the art of acting, the study of acting. The study of acting, and the application of it, are the things that truly ground me and give any meaning--or bring any meaning--to me about all things.

My education came through the theatre: Not only the plays I saw, but the plays I read and studied and worked on--in class or in my imagination. I have gone without many times in my life--food, affection, a home, friends, money, comforts--but I have for so long been utterly dependent on the worlds of the theatre and of film, and of the images and the sounds that are produced when artists apply themselves. I cannot go without those words, and I cannot go without watching what others do with them.

I think we think too much, analyze too much, and feel too little. There was in the period when I studied a great dependence on therapy, on analysis, on the knowing of things. Sometimes a person would be extraordinary in class--our breaths would leave our bodies, the words would come alive, and we would be in the midst of a great theatrical moment, and the actor would run from the room and find an analyst or a coach to discuss what had happened, would try to find out how this could be repeated.

One of the great beauties--the great mysteries--of the art of acting is the evanescence of it all: It arrives and departs so quickly and capriciously. Didn't you write something called Capricious Gods? Well, that it was I like to think inhabits us when we fully understand a text and engage everything we have and everything our partners have and we come to a fulfillment of the word.

Stella [Adler] taught us that the words of the play were THE WORD, as in the great, canonical text. The play was the foundation upon which we erected what became the production, what housed our acting. It was sacred ground, and tread gently upon it. She taught me how to look at, read, understand, grasp all plays. She was my education. She led me to my education, she would add right now, if she were here. Always correcting. Always improving.

Feel things. Notice how many times you sit next to someone who cries at a play or a film, and an hour later, over coffee, they become very rigid and angry and begin criticizing what they've seen--laying it out, seeing things 'in reflection.' I think this is terribly poisonous. Admit to and enjoy those things that have moved you. Don't be embarrassed or feel you have to explain your reactions. If you feel differently years later, fine: we all change. But acknowledge and own your feelings when they come, and write or act or paint in the same way. Don't think too much about it. Spread your gift; share your gift; ask around and see if it moves people.

It is so easy to believe that you'll always be ready to handle everything life presents to you, but a day--many days--arrive and you can't bear it, you can't even dream that you have it within you or around you to cope or to survive. Hold on to that emotional, dreaming person--the one who feels--and keep family and friends and the things you love and the things you live for deep in your head and your heart. Eat and laugh a lot; love deeply; give fully. It doesn't just go by fast; it comes at you with alarming speed and stealth and damage.

You will not be prepared. You will be knocked off your feet, your foundation. Make sure it's a strong foundation, and make sure you know how to get back to it and on it and re-build it.

No one is ready for what ultimately arrives, but some are lucky and are able to not only survive but to get others through it all.

Work on that. Feel more. Laugh a lot. Draw a circle of loved ones around you. 


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