Saturday, March 20, 2010

From Directing to being Directed

For over thirty years I directed The Avodah Dance Ensemble. I loved creating pieces, working with talented dancers and musicians. When I retired in 2004 it was with a satisfaction of having said what I needed to say. I was also thrilled to have Julie Gayer Kris become the new artistic director and to know that what I had begun was going to continue with new energy and ideas.

I turned by attention to painting. The discipline from dance days carried over in that I found that I could easily spend hours at the easel creating. After a few years I sensed something was missing. Some volunteer work and even a part time job didn't feel the gap I sensed. Then last year when we were in Placitas, NM I saw an ad for an evening acting workshop and went. I loved it. When we moved here last September I decided that doing background (extra) work on TV and film might be right on. I was lucky to get some work on Crash which I wrote about earlier. As we settled into Santa Fe, I got more serious.

I signed up for a class in Acting for Film and Media at Santa Fe Community College. The 8 week (twice a week) course just finished, and I loved it. Developing two pieces, one a monologue and the other a two person scene was challenging. Most of all I loved the time in front of the camera where fellow students directed our pieces.

This past week I had the opportunity to do background work on two projects. One was a student short independent film and the other was a major Hollywood feature. Again I found I loved the experiences. I liked being told when to enter, what to do and simply be part of the creative process without having to be the bottom line director that I had been with the dance company. Since I signed a confidentiality agreement related to the feature film I will have to wait until it is released to share any specific thoughts. It was an amazing learning experience and I will be going back on set Monday this time with our 1993 mini van.

There seem to be lots of opportunities in New Mexico for background work. I am meeting people on the sets that have been in 20 or more films. And people that are new to it. My partner in a cross for the feature was a physician that had just retired and, like me, this was his first film. So besides the opportunities for work (yes we are paid on TV and film projects although not on student projects) interesting people gravitate to this type of work.

When our instructor asked us if we wanted to continue to the second half of the class he went around asking if we wanted to focusing on acting or directing. I didn't hesitate. Acting!

Not only had I liked the process of being directed I found I wasn't embarrassed by seeing myself on a large scene when we watched our scenes this week. Maybe I have just accepted myself as I am. I could watch myself and see what was working and what I needed to work on. I appreciated the feedback from the instructor as to what he recommended.

I look forward to continuing this new journey and have found the balance to the quiet work of painting alone in my studio.

I welcome your reactions and comments and sharing how you have found balance in your life.

Other related blogs of authorandartist are:
Celebrating Avodah
Background Work on Crash

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bill Dudley: The End to a one year era

Author's note: The following was among my father's notes from which I wrote the book Screamer: The Forgotten Voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The incident occurred in 1947, and now all have passed on. My dad viewed Dudley as the greatest individual to ever play pro football, and one glance at his achievements in running, passing, kicking and playing defense should convince anyone else of why dad was justified.

I returned on Sunday from the Run for the Roses. I wanted to write this note as quickly as possible so that I would not forget. Art pledged me to complete secrecy about what I had heard, and other than writing and filing this note; I will not speak of what transpired.

Besides me, there were three others at the Derby Saturday, Art Rooney, Bill Dudley, and Fran Fogarty. “Bullet Bill” had finished the 1946 season as the most spectacular player I or anyone else had ever seen. Art wanted to sign him for the ’47 season, but there were problems. He had had several clashes with that other Steelers great, the coach, ‘Jock’ Sutherland. Bill had been a standout at Virginia where they played the new T-formation. In the single wing, Bill was often left open to punishing tackles. He wanted the coach to modify and got into a heated argument with him over tactics.

Having finished the season under the unwavering coach, Dudley came to Louisville with one mission. If he were going to continue with the Steelers, he would have to be paid a lot more than the $5,000 he made for 1946. He told Art that he understood that “Whizzer” White had a contract for $15,000 a decade earlier, and that either he would get $25,000 or he would retire.

Art told Bill that he had been carrying the team for the war years and it was only in 1946 that the team began to almost pay for itself. Bill was noticeably upset, but knew that Art was being truthful. He told him that the maximum he could go was $10,000, but would agree to a bonus if certain conditions were met. The possibility of anything approaching Bill’s figure was not remotely possible.

Bill was downcast when we parted, he back to Virginia, we, back to Pittsburgh.