How To Be An Actor - The Timeless Excuse - Beverly Hills Playhouse

I Gotta Get My Shit Together

Ah, yes. I gotta get my shit together. It’s not exactly a new expression, but I dearly wish it would expire, like I gotta shoe my horse or I gotta go to Strawberries and get the latest LP.

I gotta get my shit together. I need a break. I feel dispersed. I’m uninspired. I need to go make money for a bit. I need to go to Joshua Tree. It’s all of a piece. The Grand Justification. Because, of what is this “shit” comprised? Money, relationships, car repair, dental work, I’m-writing-a-script, spiritual advancement, a place to live, the new job…. On and on. There’s nothing in the world that won’t fit under the generous, welcoming umbrella of I gotta get my shit together.  And no one is immune. Not a human walks the face of the earth who doesn’t have some shit that needs  getting together.

The one activity that appears not to be part of I gotta get my shit together is disciplined, daily, hard work at both craft and career. IGGMST is almost always used as the ‘reason’ one must take a break from that hard work, because until IGGMST is handled, you see, Aspiring Actor will simply not be able to take the world by storm. But when the shit is handled, well, brother, look out. Then, and only then, will class have its proper relevancy, and the scene work will take off, qualitatively and quantitatively. Then, and only then, the concentration will be there, the commitment,  the money, the time to do the administration that is being blown off at the moment.

The one activity that appears not to be part of I gotta get my shit together is disciplined, daily, hard work at both craft and career.Click To Tweet

Is there an acting teacher out there who hasn’t grown to detest summer? Summer. I gotta take summer off to get my shit together. Summer is the great season for getting one’s shit together, apparently. Two weeks of travel next month becomes the reason for eight weeks off from class. “Why do you need eight weeks if you’re traveling for two?” Answer? Yeah. You got it. There’s a whole category of shit that gets together…. after Labor Day.

But in 20+ years’ association with BHP, I’ve noticed an unmistakeable pattern: The vast majority of those who leave class under the IGGMST umbrella? I bump into them on occasion some months later, years later…. They’re still getting their shit together. They’re still getting their money together. They’re in a brand new, shiny, fucked-up relationship that’s driving them nuts the way the old one did. They’re still smoking pot every week. They’re still working on that script. They’re on Level 14 of Positivity Seminar X, and Level 15 – that’s where the shit really gets handled. Or, often, they’ve just quit.

And most whom I’ve witnessed to have made the blessed journey from Aspiring Actor to Working Actor – they’ve been studying and working at it the whole time. It’s not 100% of course, I’m not trying to say that if you’re not in a class you won’t make it. But definitely a high percentage of those who make that transition – they’ve been in class the whole time. And of the ones who do make the transition, post-study – the vast majority were the ones who spent years hacking it out on a stage a couple times a week.

The linkage here is not that a class provides some magical elixir that leads to work. It’s just that it represents an intention on your part. You’re going to part with some cash and a night or two a week in dedication to that which you want to achieve – good acting, and a career to match.  A class provides structure, accountability, you’ll see something that inspires you, which is pretty good. Better, you’ll get to inspire others  (waiting for inspiration takes a distant second place to inspiring others). The tidal pull towards that unique actor-ly blend of bitterness, cynicism and superiority – it might not pull you so hard, you might get your ass hauled by the teacher in the way it needs to be, in a way that leads you to actions that break some logjam in the acting or the career. To me, class serves the very purpose of getting the aspiring actor’s shit together.

So this is not a sermon from the mount, it’s not as if I can look at life and say that I’ve got all my shit together. As I said, not a human walks the earth… The point is to discourage the idea that IGGMST is a reason for… anything. It’s not anything. IGGMST is the shit. The game is to do what you need to do, work the way you need to work, persist the way you need to persist despite the fact that there may in fact be some shit that needs getting together. IGGMST will be eternal. What’s immediate is your ability to chase a dream and take the actions necessary to achieve it.


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