Sticking true to theme with my last post, we’re once again on the topic of the incredible Larry Moss. But can you blame me? Turns out this man is one of my idols and he should be one of yours too.
Two weeks ago was the fourth and last day of the Melbourne Larry Moss Masterclass, fervently put on by the delightful people at 16th Street Actors Studio. I had only signed up and paid for the first day. About half way through the day I realised that I needed to see this entire experience through until the end, so I made it happen.
The night before the first day I had a dream which I now can see was a premonition. I was there at the masterclass, sitting in the audience. As the actors were being workshopped on the floor their “ghosts” were floating up and sweeping past our heads. They were sharing their souls with us. In essence, this is a summary of what the masterclass was.
Real life problems are acting problems and we all have real life problems. We all have certain neuroses we have built during childhood for survival. We keep these outdated “mind maps” with us into adulthood where they destroy us rather that protect us. If you’d like to learn more about this I highly recommend giving the fantastic “The Road Less Travelled” by M. Scott Peck a read. As an example: an actor who was yelled at a lot as a child may have trouble being a threatening presence on stage and yelling at someone for a performance. They cannot stand in all their power for fear of coming across as what tormented them as a child.
That is the fundamental matter that stuck with me; people are afraid of their own power. We confuse assertiveness with aggression. I now understand that to be aggressive is to take what is someone else’s, while being assertive is taking what is rightfully yours. Actors cannot own a space and send across ideas affectingly unless they are capable of first standing in their own rightful power! When a person supports another person to unapologetically be present in all their power with their body and voice, frequently they will break down and sob. Sometimes, people need permission from someone else before they can give it to themselves. Larry Moss was that person for every single actor taking part in the masterclass.
Larry Moss had such humanity and a profound intuition towards each individual up on stage. One actor compared the workshopping process to a therapy session to which Moss responded with, “therapy just means change.” It is certainly safe to say that every human being, whether they were there for a a single day or all four, walked out of that theatre changed in some way.
I now have an even deeper respect for the individuals journey that is self knowledge, whether it be through therapy, travelling, making art… pick your poison. Plato said that, “the essence of knowledge is self-knowledge,” and I find that to be true in the sense that that is where everything must begin. To know ones self is to love oneself and as Her Majesty The Queen RuPaul says, “if you can’t love yourself how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
I also learnt that self discipline is self love. I learnt that actors in particular (not to discount non-actors) are notoriously lazy people. Larry Moss says that, “success is when opportunity meets preparation.” He also said, “WORK LIKE A DOG EVERY DAY.” If you put your future in someone else’s hands, you won’t have one. It’s an understatement to say that I walked out of that theatre after four days so entirely motivated to dedicate my days to making myself excellent in my chosen craft. I believe that I am privileged with the knowledge of knowing exactly what it is that I want to do with my life. So, what the hell good does it do to avoid doing the thing we wanna do?
I came out the other end of this masterclass with so many pearls of wisdom that I was still putting my notes together a week or so after it’s conclusion. This blog post could go on forever. Rather than typing my fingers down to stubs, I’d rather leave you with just a few of the shiniest golden nuggets from my experience. Actors: honour the writer always. When you honour the writer it’s phenomenal how the emotional instrument conveys the ideas. You are interesting enough just standing there. Don’t try to be interesting or likeable. Trust the play to take you along. And don’t forget to breathe, breathe, BREATHE. This one goes for everyone: don’t resent what you are still yet to learn. Instead, have a respect for it. Because once you take it on, it becomes one of your attributes… and isn’t that fantastic?
Ultimately, actor or not, you hold in your own hands who you are and what you will become. Your psychological issues, your (self) knowledge, your neuroses… they’re all in your domain. You possess the power to work and not let yourself get in your own way.
If you’d like to pick my brain further about this experience, please do not hesitate to contact me!