A Note From Benjamin Farmer
‘Rough Crossing,’ my 5th go-round with Bag&Baggage Theatre Company, opens on May 9th (my 29th birthday!), which is 2 weeks from tomorrow!
She finally called me on it. It was a serious control issue that I just needed to let go of, and I firmly believe the B&B has helped me do so.
Actors have great instincts, but we also don’t see ourselves from the outside like a director can. By creating those kinds of limitations on our work and being afraid to try something outside of our comfort zone, we shortchange ourselves. Trusting that the director has the best in mind not only for us as the actor, but for the entire production as a whole is fundamental in our work. We actors are but a small piece to a very large puzzle. Serving ones character in a play is perfectly fine, but it also has to be serving the vision that the director has for the production. If you can’t or won’t do that, they’ll pay somebody else to do it instead.
In the productions since ‘Twelfth Night,’ I have had the opportunity to play some amazing roles while serving Steve’s (Scott’s!) vision of these productions, which include ‘The Tempest, or The Enchanted Isle,’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and most recently ‘Kabuki Titus.’ Even in ‘Titus’ I had an initial hesitation in playing Marcus (thinking again of age, type, etc., based on the productions of ‘Titus’ that I had seen before). But looking back, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Scott knew where I would best serve the production, and even though I couldn’t quite see it, it turned out to be a milestone in my career, and some of the proudest work I’ve ever done. Trust your directors. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourselves. Release your control. And if you do have an element of fear when approaching a role, that’s a good thing! It means a critical part of you has already taken the first fearful step towards creating something honest and unforgettable with your fellow actors, while serving the directors vision of the play. Your process cannot be a self-serving process. You have an entire cast of actors to take-in, Find a way to make it work,
which usually means GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY. If you release your control and open yourself to learning new things, you’ll never be bored, and the quality of your work will only go up.
Plus, directors like it when you do what they tell you to do.
The juice has been worth the squeeze, and I can’t wait to get back to rehearsal tonight and find new things that serve Scott’s vision for the play and for this company, a vision that every person on that stage shares and believes in.