I was talking to one of my classmates last night. I mentioned that I had a blog about my acting school experience, but that I hadn’t been blogging much of late. I explained that felt like I should blog, but my brain just felt like mush when it came to trying to process the information and experiences of class.
He told me about something he had read that Spalding Gray had said or written. I’m paraphrasing his paraphrase, but I think you will get the idea. He said the Spalding Gray was walking through the forest on a beautiful day, and the trees and sky were so exquisite and moving that he felt he should write about it, but didn’t want to, or couldn’t, or something like that, I’m not sure now. Did I mention my brain was mushy?
It’s like it is to hard to explain what’s happening, because I’m not really sure what’s going on myself. My paltry attempts at splicing words into a narrative are likely to fall short of what’s really going on.
Last night at the end of class, Robin asked us if we had noticed anything particular about that night’s performance bits. People responded with various things such as the activities seemed more meaningful, the background stories richer, the interactions more complex, the connection deeper, the framework of the repetition exercise was looser, and on and on.
Basically what she was trying to point out was that we are improving. That by jumping through the Meisner-shaped hoops we are becoming better at our acting just by the act of doing. It seems Zen. Become what you are, become what you do, a no-matter-where-you-go-there-you-are sort of thing.
Robin made us all read Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel at the beginning of the quarter. Basically it describes the process of repeatedly trying to master something and even though you keep doing it badly, the process of doing it despite all ones errors and misdirections, will lead to improvement and eventually mastery if you stick with it long enough.
The idea is to get to the point of Unconscious Competence, the fourth stage of competency. The four stages of competency being:
- Unconscious Incompetency, you don’t know what you don’t know how to do.
- Conscious Incompetency, you know what you don’t know how to do.
- Conscious Competency, you know how to do what you do, but you have to concentrate on it. And lastly,
- Unconscious Competence, you don’t have to think about what you are doing. This is the realm of mastery.
Right now I’m in the land of Conscious Incompetence. I know that I don’t know a whole lot.