Preview #11: The Beauty—
The beauty. Boxers block and punch and bleed for the beauty. Welders brave molten metal and white hot sparks for the beauty. Musicians play till their flesh is raw for the beauty. And actors accept assignments that end up costing them money …. for the beauty.
I have always characterized myself as a hard working journeyman actor who goes to where the work is and always, always delivers the goods on time and under budget. The money was never the issue, well not for me anyway, but the beauty… the beauty.
The beauty of an actor’s life resides in a child’s smile, an audience’s laugh, the approval of a colleague the feel of a perfect line of prose as it rolls off your tongue, over the air and into the ears, minds and hearts of perfect strangers who will never forget that moment, that curious exchange of energy.
I once had the pleasure of working on a film with the great middleweight boxer Lloyd Weaver. He and his brothers, the Weaver brothers, triplets who had all become professional boxers, have always been in pursuit of the beauty. Lloyd told me a story once of a tough fight he was waging against a Mexican boxer who’s name has escaped me. Lloyd waxed eloquent of how beautiful his opponent was, how his punches stung, how his footwork was a beautiful dance, of the deadliness of his left hook. Lloyd caught one of those left hooks on his right temple. He didn’t see the punch coming. The lights went out for him. There was no thought, no passage of time, only the blackness that the blow engendered. And when the lights reignited he found that he was still fighting. His mind shut down but his body, trained for hours and days and months and years, fought on and did not fall. Lloyd didn’t prevail in that fight. At the end, his opponent’s hand was raised before the crowd, but his performance in the fight was so earnest, so pure, so utterly beautiful that the decision was beside the point. He went on to fight again, and again, and again….for the beauty.
I’m 60 years old. I’ve been a working professional on stage for over 35 years. Many of the players in this company are younger than my son. And in all that time, all those lines, all the audiences and entrances and exits, and flubs and hits and flops, I’ve never lost my appetite for the beauty; the beauty of a well written line, a colleague’s praise, an audience’s gasp, a perfectly crafted moment that rings true again, and again. The beauty of a perfectly crafted prop, a splendid costume, a quick change executed with perfect grace and 10 seconds ahead of the entrance queue.
I will never be rich. I will never be a star, and I will never have a bad day in the theatre. Most of all, I will never, ever cease my pursuit, of the beauty.
More to come.