Who is Godit? Why are they waiting for him? Is he ever going to show up? Those were the questions of the warden at the prison at San Quentin. Why would a warden be asking about a Nobel Peace Prize winner’s play? Funny you should ask!
Last night, I had the pleasure of having a life changing experience at the Actors Studio in New York. The Actors Studio was founded in 1941 by Elie Kazan to preserve the art of American acting. Where Actors could go to get away from the business and focus on their craft. The reason why they got started in the first place. Well, why I got started in the first place. These days, who knows. People just want to be on TV, movies, and want the glam and the fame. Not me. I did it because I love it. I could care less about money and fame. I love the craft, and that is what I hate about “Hollywood” It’s such a joke really! I don’t even want to get into it, because I might say something that I might regret! Perhaps, I already have. Anyway, on with my story! The Actors Studio. What a place! What a building! What history! It really is an amazing place to be! The elite of the acting world. The best of the best! Kazan came from the Group Theater founded by a few people one of them being Lee Strasberg. When that closed, the students dispersed, and Kazan created the Actors Studio with some friends.
The group theater was inspired by the work of the great Stanislavsky. If you are an actor, and don’t know who this person is, then by all means, do yourself a favor, and the rest of the acting world a favor, and go find out! UGH! The fact that I should even have to tell people to do this irks me! In America, you have three students who worked directly with Stanislavsky. Strasberg, Meisner, and Adler. If you still don’t know who I’m talking about and you’re an actor, shame shame shame shame! I’m cringing in my chair! If you’re not an actor, then you are excused! So, you have Stanislavsky the very first acting teacher in the world! Where did the theater start? Greece! What did Stanislavsky do? He came up with “The System” I just read Wikipedia, and they have it wrong! They said he came up with the Method. No. Strasberg did. Stanislavsky started it all with his “System”. Then, Strasberg continued his research and added to it introducing emotional recollection where the actor then starts to bring up things from their own past. Then, from America you have Adler, Meisner, and Strasberg who all studied with him and went on to further the work of the actor. Stella Adler was working with Strasberg and said (not in these exact words) NO! I refuse to bring up something from myself and my past, that is not acting! So, she left Strasberg and his “Method”. Stella believes “Acting is Doing” which makes sense, acting is a verb to do. So yes! Acting is doing! To act, is to do! When Strasberg came along, his emotional recollection became know as the “Method” So, now you have Actors from the System, and from the Method. The actors seemed to split into two different ways. You either believed in the Method, or you didn’t. Adler did not. To her, it wasn’t acting. She didn’t want to be herself, and use her own experiences. Acting was doing! Her being a mime and everything and studying with her parents and all. So, the acting world split. The System, and The Method. People who studied with Strasberg became known as the Method actors. Then there was Meisner. I’m not a big fan of Meisner. But why? What I know of Meisner, is acting is reacting. Listening, and then reacting. I’m talking, then your talking, then I’m talking then your talking, and we’re talking in the same way as eachother. So, I’m talking real monotone, and now you talk real monotone, then I talk real monotone, and you, then so on and so on. Not a big believer. I don’t think Method actors, and Meisner actors, were friends, or still are! Anyway, I’m getting way way off the subject here. This started out as a review of my evening at the Actors Studio, which now has turned into a history lesson on acting! You’re welcome! Why? Because I know you are thanking me! 😉 I know what I’m talking about too! If you don’t believe be, then ask my acting teachers Richard Scanlon, and Jason Bennett! Go ahead! Do it!
That brings me to “Godit” Pronnounced “God-oh”. What does one think of when they see that word? I don’t know, God maybe? Sure why not! Waiting for God! Could it be that Beckett was writing about waiting for God? I don’t know. Well, I do know after last night’s performance. His play was about silence. Imagine that. Silence. All the renditions, and interpretations around the world, and it was about silence. Direct from Beckett’s mouth to Jan Johnson. When asked “Why are you doing this” by Beckett to Jan, he replied,” I love the silence in your play, and I love the silence on your face!”
Last night, I experienced something truly amazing. I was taken out of my world for an evening, with some very special people at the Actors Studio, and was blown away with what was put on in front of me. It was like something just grabbed me, threw me into the theater, sat my ass down in a chair, and said “Watch this little girl and shut up!” Like a tornado, a whirlwind, or a force beyond reckoning. For once in my life, I was blown away! I laughed, I cried, I smiled, I frowned, I laughed some more, cried some more, laughed so much it hurt, and I cried so much it hurt. What in the heck was it that made me this way?
His name was Jan Johnson. An actor from Sweden who’s first gig was that of a messenger in a play called “Waiting for Godit” by Samuel Beckett. That was his first gig as a child. He went on to do things, that I don’t know if anyone else has ever done. He left the National Theater to go work in a prison to teach drama to inmates. What? Yeah! Exactly! Inmates! What? Is he mad? Out of his mind? Are you sure? Inmates? Yeah! Criminals! Why? What’s wrong with him? I believe, and was told by him after the show, that he wanted to do something real. I get it. I totally get it. What an amazing thing this man has done! I just can’t believe how lucky I am to have been there when he told his story! WOW! This man who started out as a messenger in a Beckett play, then became Beckett’s messenger! What? Yeah! Hold your horses! There’s more!
Jan Johnson went to help prisoners learn drama. His first go around didn’t turn out all that great. All the inmates except one ended up escaping the night of the BIG performance! That poor guy that didn’t escape! What was he thinking? He could’ve been free! lol! Oh well, he missed the boat on that one there! On the way to this massive performance where they had about 750 people, tons of press and photographers and everyone, Jan had to tell them that prisoners had escaped, and there will be no performance lol! Madness! Oh yeah, I left out one little detail. Jan was working directly with Beckett! Oh yeah! He found out what Jan was doing, and invited him to Paris to meet with him! Jan thought it was all a big joke, but then found out it was real, and went to Paris. They built a relationship, and Beckett gave Jan the permission to do the play. He said here, it’s yours and gave him the rights to use the play on a napkin. Jan would work with the prisoners, then report back to Beckett, then work with the prisoners, then report back. He video taped his work to show Beckett. Beckett was running the show, and Jan was his messenger. Like he had been in his first performance. That’s deep! If that ain’t deep, then I don’t know what deep is! Here’s Beckett and Jan working with harden criminals! First you need to get past that! Yeah criminals! At their own risk! Jan entered the jail at his own risk! Risked his life every day to give something to these people who were locked up for pretty much life! This is a man worth of praise not the Kardashians people! HELLO! Can we wake up here? PLEASE! UGH! Freaking A! Jan Johnson spent his life helping inmates! What did they do? Put out a sex tape? A reality show? Get OJ off of killing his X. PLEASE! Wake the F up people! God help us all! Ok, so you’re saying, inmates, who gives a F about them anyway? They deserve to rot in jail if they were bad! This man, loved his craft so much, that he wanted to teach inmates. He gave them a door. a door to their soul. To freedom. Their freedom from themselves. He treated them like human beings, and not like harden criminals. He gave life to them.
“What happened when you gave my play to people living in darkness?” That is what Beckett asked of Jan. He showed him. What had happened, was something beyond belief. These prisoners found a way to express themselves through drama. He gave these people something. A play. A script. A chance to live again, even in the darkness. They shined! One fell in love, got married, and two of them even were let out to be free after decades! Wow! That’s what art can do? It can free people from prison? It can bring life to darkness? Wow! That’s what art can do! Just when I’m thinking, “What am I doing with my life?” I’m running around do this acting stuff, and this world is so superficial, and who gives a crap about the art of acting anyway? People just care about money, clothes, and bullshit! Here come Jan Johnson, with the work of Samuel Beckett, showing me why it is I do what I do! To touch people. To give them something. To bring light to the darkness. To bring life to this fake world. This fake world of cars, suits, watches, hair cuts, houses and money. Art brings Life! REAL life! Not this fake Hollywood bullshit! Sorry Hollywood, I love you, but come on. Can we fucking wake up? HELLO EARTH TO HOLLYWOOD this is REAL talent calling are we reaching? Hello? This is REAL TALENT calling! ARE WE REACHING! Fuck the Kardishain’s, and Reality shows that aren’t real, and Miley Cyrus who has a drug problem, and people who just look good getting lead roles. I just can’t take it! Where is the real talent? Where? I’ll tell you! In New York City at the Actors Studio. If you don’t believe me, then you’re an idiot, and you should then keep doing your little showcases for money and continue to take money from people who think you are going to cast them in your little project! That’s BULLSHIT! And if these are the people getting cast in stuff, then that’s not real talent, and Hollywood is full of it! I refuse to pay anyone to meet them! I don’t give a F who you are! They should be paying to meet me! I just get get over how this is all working. The pay to play is bullshit no matter what you tell, me and I refuse to be a part of it. “Oh well that’s just how it is” some people tell me! Well yeah if your a CD, your telling me that bc that’s how you get your money! If you’re an actor telling me that, well yeah, bc you’ve shelled out all your money to these people hoping to get cast in something! That’s not real talent! I’m sorry, I went off on a tanget again! I tend to do that. Hope you don’t mind. Back to my story.
Jan Johnson. What an amazing person. Samuel Beckett, a Nobel Peace Prize winning author. What a great story I witnessed last night! They showed me why it is I do what I do! I’m an artist. My art is acting. In a world where they worship money and cars, and the Kardisians, I am an artist living my life for the art of acting. Not for money, not for fame, but for the love of what I do. For the love of what other people before me have done. To master my craft. To say Fuck all to Hollywood, I am good at what I do, and I don’t give a fuck about you or what you think, or what the rest of the world thinks for that matter, but to go on perfecting my craft if it kills me! Then I will at least die doing something that I love, and my life will be worth living! Not for the paycheck, not for the car, not for the things, the plastic toys, but for life, for art, for acting!
Thank you Samuel Beckett, Jan Johnson, The Actors Studio, Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, Steven Michaels, Jason Bennett, James Letini, Richard Scanlon, Stanislavsky, New York City, God, my friends, my family, and everyone who believes in me, and what I do, thank you! Thank you for everything you’ve done! Thank you to everyone that has given me an opportunity to showcase my work as an actress, and hired me thus far in my career! Last night showed me why it is we as actors do what we do in life. If acting can bring life to inmates and change their life, and give them another chance to live in the free world, then by God this work is worth it! For the past ten years I’ve tried to have a career in acting. It was a rocky road, and still is! Unsure of myself at times, in and out of offices and jobs. Heck, I’m still trying to make a living at it! It will happen one day! I will have my house in Malibu on the beach, I just know it! Boy would that be nice! I hope I have stories like Jan Johnson to tell while Im at it!
You can learn more about the Actors Studio here: http://theactorsstudio.org/studio-history/