The ACTion COLLECTIVE: ACT IV - It's All About You

On Thursday last, The Action Collective fired up its first event of the new year. (January we devoted our energies instead to internal structuring and producing our very first newsletter, which we hope to make a regular, monthly occurrence.) I wasn't sure what to expect from this one. It was different in that we were asking for a great deal more preparation from our actors than we have to date: we asked them to write a scene. The scenes were then cast in the room, and performed after only a quick read-through "rehearsal" with some notes from the writer. Andrew and I committed ourselves to the same assignment, in keeping with our ethos that we are members of the Collective along with being the ones who make it run. We were mercifully (for us, and all involved, I think) saved by the bell from having our pieces performed. It is in part because of this that I can say with absolute confidence that all the scenes that night were really, really good.

(Actually, for all I know, I would have been the only writing liability of the evening. Andrew's good at, like, everything, so he's probably good at playwriting too. [Jerkface.])

I was eager to have another event after such a break, but also uniquely nervous, given that exposing my writing makes me way more anxious than exposing, say, myself on stage. It's entirely debatable which of these is actually more revealing about a person, but I tend to feel more in control of the latter, I suppose. That's part of what was amazing about the whole thing -- people brought it. It got broughten. And by "it," I mean risk-taking, specific choices and strong results. Andrew and I have talked about producing a show through The AC for as long as we've talked about the organization itself, and last Thursday showed me that member-generated work would not only function in this, it could be relied upon entirely.

Here we had actors working with other actors' scripts, and it created what I found to be a unique synergy of like-mindedness. We could quickly grasp what our fellow artist had intended, because we spoke similar languages, and this resulted in the actors being pleasantly surprised by what accessible material they had to work with, and the playwrights (some of the same people, in their turns) being surprised by what could be brought to their words. It was win-win, in other words, and as the evening progressed it seemed we all grew quite proud of one another. Feedback flowed more easily, and people started to feel truly at home in the process. Just when I think The AC has achieved the sense of community I was aiming for, the next event shows me a new and promising way to allow that sense to grow.

Friend Nat (who was in attendance) coined a term some three years ago on this here 'blog: "creactors." The Chimeric nature of that word is really grotesque, which made me laugh, and so it has since been a tag on many a post here ever since. It refers to actors who also create their own work with skills outside of those traditionally associated with acting. In other words, actors who write, choreograph, direct and produce, paint and draw, etc. It covers most people, actually, but only ever refers to those who take the risk of creating their own work. And ACT IV brought it home for me that The Action Collective is a group that is perfect for "creators," and already has many talented ones actively involved in shaping it. Which couldn't please me more.

Except that it will; it holds great promise, and opens up the possibilities for what our fledgling community can hope to achieve. Andrew and I are excitedly gathering resources for the next event and newsletter, as well as for long-range plans for the year. Watch this space (or, you know, the AC 'blog, Facebook and/or Twitter pages). It's all about you, after all...