An actor begins the walk onto a stage
without sets, without backdrops or props or costumes
coming to center simply spiked by two torn pieces of
finger-crossed tape acknowledging a presence on boards
painted black, thickly covering the years, filling in scuff marks,
smoothing over voices that pour blood onto the floor
night after night, the mark where you stand alone
under one spotlight blinding your view, but not theirs
judging how you move, angles of your body,
color of your hair, sound of your voice
they await the spark of your soul
and when you speak, shoving aside fear,
ignoring their whispers, you breathe life into that dark hollow,
your life, the actor’s soul, you learn to trust
darkness, open your heart to the faceless evaluating
your pain, your joys, your naked self
you bleed, not for accolades from hungry eyes
yearning to be entertained, you bleed for a chance
to confer an understanding, propose compassion,
for just an hour or two you ache to give yourself wholly and
without restraint to provoke, to accord clarity,
a different view point, to comfort or place a moment of mirth
in a life you do not know, nor will ever meet
and in a minute or two a thank you rolls from the darkness through
blinding light into your ears and you are excused, to hope,
to move on, and not look back.
When you ask me what I am, I now answer “Teacher.” But that is not true. It is a lie.
I am an actor.
The truth is that once you discover this, once you realize that you are an actor, you are never anything else. You may do lots of different things in your life, but the soul of an actor is tenacious. It does not give in or up. It has found a comfortable place to live and you will be defined by “I am an actor” for eternity.
When I am in the presence of working actors, when I see performances, that soul twinkles and cheers and lives another life.
And, no matter what I do or who asks, there is always the quick, under whisper from my heart, “I am an actor.”