December 18, 2007

On Squishiness

The term 'Squishy Morph' in my blog title is a reference to two CUA professors' evaluations after my first semester of grad school.

"Morph" came from a professor I respect, and was intended as a compliment about my range as an actor.

"Squishy" came from an instructor that I didn't particularly respect (and who never learned my name, and no longer teaches there). I assume s/he was calling me out for a general lack of a definitive and/or assertive personality as a human being. I can safely assume it wasn't particularly complimentary.

Consider a quote from a fellow CUA grad student, a year ahead of me... we were working on a show together after graduation, and I'd gotten a very short haircut to suit my tiny role as a guard... "You should keep your hair short; it makes you look kinda bad-ass. Until you open your mouth and wreck it."

This same person a year later conceded that my work as an actor had grown extraordinarily in the time s/he knew me. I think it might be more of a case where s/he came to appreciate that whatever talent I possess as an actor is not entirely overshadowed by my laid-back and somewhat milquetoasty demeanor.

In life, as well as in theatre, I appreciate how the more successful people are the more often the ones with the assertive, aggressive Type-A personalities. As demonstrated in an in-class visit by Broadway star Patrick Page, the most riveting acting involves single-minded pursuit of an objective, and the actors who are the best at this are typically just as relentless offstage. I can improve to a degree, but that's just not me. I'm squishy, and that's my cross to bear.

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