If I spelled out the last half of my 2008 in the right way, it could be a hit country song; complete with losing my two dogs in a divorce. Moving across the country to attend acting conservatory was the greatest move I could have made at the time, along with rooming with a fellow Combat Veteran. With my sister nearby on Long Island, I was fortunate to have trustworthy support while The American Academy of Dramatic Arts introduced me to the foreign world of myself. See, the one thing I did not expect was that in order to be honest in character, it would be essential to be honest with myself.
Although my original intent for training as an Actor was to bring authenticity to Military characters on screen, it was only while studying acting that I began to understand how the Military affected my own character. However, Acting truly became therapeutic not through the exploration of my past and inner world, but by requiring me to fully commit to a character as a part of a greater scene. I don't mean talk or drama therapy, but the same healing artistic focus of a painter pouring emotions into brush strokes on canvas or a songwriter penning the human experience into rhythm and rhyme.
Acting is perhaps a misnomer, as true flow is found in honestly reacting. Success is found in balancing intentional presence with receptive curiosity, allowing the actors to perform a choreographed dance with spontaneous discovery. Effectively suspending reality through the creation of a more appealing alternative, successful actors can both reach catharsis and share it.
While a professional pursuit of Acting may be neither possible nor desirable for everyone, there are different ways to get involved in Acting from non-profit endeavors to community-based theater. With amazing digital cameras in most cell phones and how-to info everywhere online, short films can be a great way to explore the art. Much like playing an instrument or holding a paintbrush, Acting is scaleable to your life and is fun at any level. More importantly, any time you open your heart as an artist, you are bound to learn something new about yourself. Go try it!
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To learn more about about Acting and how Veterans are getting involved in the Arts, visit the following organizations: