It’s not that young people can’t act.  It’s just that older people remember being young, and most young people really, really can’t tell what it’s going to be like being older.  Only a few (like Bernadette Peters in Sunday in the Park With George) pull that off successfully.

What I’ve seen happen is that younger actors “act old.” Watching this sort of thing, I tend to feel as though they are pretending to be a different person, an “old person.”  It’s rarely convincing.

If I were an acting coach, I think I’d suggest the following way to think about it.

Friday I took the advice of my wife and drove out to visit an exhibition which showed a number of displays of the work of the Italian teachers in the town of Reggio Emilia as they work with their students.  Some of the exhibits were videos showing them working with children on music, dance and creativity.  I found the exhibit very hard to stomach.

My reaction surprised me.  I was very threatened by what I saw.  Even depressed.

I’d like to tell you a story.  It’s about who I was and who I am and who I want to be.  It’s also about jazz.

One of my favorite observations about life comes from Moshe Feldenkrais.  He points out that at birth, the origin of seeing is in the eye, so if you destroy the eye you destroy seeing.  But later in life you don’t necessarily destroy the function of seeing if you destroy the eye.  Seeing has become something they do with their body and their mind, even if they have lost their visual sense.

As I’ve meditated on this strange observation, I’ve found it true again and again in other places.

I created a world that is believable, magical, compelling.  It has human, wonderful characters in it, and a few of my readers have expressed their love for those characters.  I solved a problem.

So why don’t I have more readers yet?  Because I haven’t shown most people how I’ve solved their problem.

One of my many roles is Music Teacher for the Willow School.  As part of that job I get to read articles on early childhood education.  One in particular, by a man named Trevarthen, has me thinking a lot about myself as a performer.

If you’re a creative person, you might hope that you’re extraordinary.  You might even believe it already.  But it’s actually not a good idea to think of yourself that way.

Tonight I almost had a head-on collision with a car, but veered and got away with a flat tire.  Every time I have a brush with injury or death I’m reminded of something.  There really isn’t time to waste being anyone but yourself.

I have some experience with crises.  There’s something really important to keep in mind when you’re in one.

You’ve gotten through every crisis you’ve ever faced.

I talked to my kids about global climate change this week.  It was hard to broach the subject.  I was embarrassed.

 

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