Friday, April 06, 2007


Well, if you look at the time stamp at the bottom of the post, you'll see that I'm up late, trying to get my thesis uploaded to the Graduate School here at LSU. I mean, I didn't really start until midnight because, you know, it's a hassle and I've been putting it off and figured it wouldn't take long. Of course, I was wrong, but that doesn't matter; I'm done now. Done. Okay, there's a slight chance that they may want some last minute minor corrections, but that shouldn't take long now that I've figured out all the rigamarole with PDF files and uploading and all that. So I am done.

Christ, it's sucked doing it all, but I am done.

Anyway, it's late, so no chatty-chat tonight, but in honor of this accomplishment, I'm going to rerun the statement of purpose that helped me get into the program here back in the spring of '04. I think the title, at this point, is a nice bit of irony. Anyway, here you go:

Acting teacher Sanford Meisner used to say, “it takes twenty years to become an actor.” This makes a lot of sense to me: twenty years ago, as a high school freshman, I started taking myself seriously as an actor. When I was a child, seeing Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl started a process that would eventually result in my investing much personal identity in a romanticized concept of “actor.” It wasn’t until my first high school play, however, that I encountered others who focused more on the work than on themselves. That was when I first began to understand that acting is about creating great shows, rather than self-aggrandizement. Indeed, this sense artistry in theater, of professionalism, is what now drives me to seek a Master of Fine Arts in acting.

A few years ago, while watching a television series on the history of jazz, I had a realization. Trumpeter Miles Davis was attempting a comeback in the late 1950s following personal troubles that had sidelined him for a while. During this time, he saw Joe Louis box: Louis’ no-nonsense, professional approach to boxing greatly impressed Davis—this experience inspired him to treat his own career as a musician in the same way. That is, Davis was revitalized, achieving greater artistic heights, because he focused thoroughly on the work, no distractions, no fooling around. Davis’ newfound philosophy of consummate professionalism rekindled my excitement about acting: seeing his resuscitation gave me the wherewithal to overcome the cold feet that had steered me away from pursuing an acting career when I was younger. It made me want to be a professional actor.

I’ve always loved acting. I’ve spent my years since college finding ways to be on stage, working with the theater people I love. In situations with untrained actors, I’ve tried to use my own training to set an example. Indeed, I’ve been fortunate enough to work recently with two other trained actors in a local amateur company; the three of us have set a standard of artistry that has helped to improve the company’s work overall. I have also been teaching high school theater for the last five years. The job has provided unexpected rewards: gradually, I have gained a firm intellectual mastery of acting basics that I first learned when I was getting my BFA—developing and using multiple strategies to explain such fundamentals has forced me to ponder these ideas in ways that I would not have otherwise.

Twenty years after my first high school play, I have come full circle. That is, as a student, I first began to explore the artistry of acting; as a teacher, I continue that exploration. However, I think I’ve learned as much as I can in that realm: now I want to go to graduate school.

Indeed, LSU’s MFA acting program offers learning opportunities that could result in my becoming a great actor. I am excited by the chance to extend both the voice lessons of Berry, Linklater, and Skinner, and the stylistic repertory work that I began as an undergraduate. I am also excited by LSU’s professional focus: internship experience and an audition portfolio are invaluable to a working actor. Furthermore, I have also studied television production and film criticism: exploring on-screen acting offers the chance to extend my understanding of those media. Beyond the benefits of a top-notch training program, LSU would be a really nice place to study. I love Louisiana—my wife and I have spent a great deal of time vacationing in New Orleans, and Baton Rouge is always a nice place to linger on the way. I also love Louisiana food and culture—the fact that my favorite music, jazz, was born there is also compelling. In short, LSU can give me the environment, skills, and knowledge to prepare me to attain what I so very much want, to be a professional actor.
Friday cat blogging tomorrow.