Starring in my own web series and learning to accept my image
When I first learned to act, I learned about intention: Every line has an intention, every action has an intention, track the character’s objective every moment of the play, what do they what, what are they trying to do, what are their obsessions, how are they trying to earn them, what are they fighting for, what does that fight look like…work and work and work and work and work towards understanding this one person, this one fictional character, and their connection to the outside world.
I began my training at age eleven.
I have not acted in anything for five years. (Don’t ask but I’m almost 30)
Yesterday I released a web series. I am starring in the web series.
The idea for me to play ‘Kara’, the charming hostess of this interview-style series, was my decision, my invention and my oversight.
When I first came up with the idea, I didn’t really think much about how the event of me sharing my own performance again might be a complex emotional endeavor.
I really should have thought about it.
Playing character has been a passion of mine from an early age. I stopped doing it and became solely a “writer” because the stress of being an individual with a strong intention in front of many many people was beginning to make me sick. Especially because I’m quite good at it.
I get it. I get what it means to really want something. I have always been, almost alarmingly, good at imagining the inner lives of others.
Once my mother found me the appropriate extra-recreational drama school (which she found by eavesdropping on the owner’s conversation he was having with a woman who had trapped him into listening to her talk about her crystals in a Floridian airport) I began to obsess over the possibilities of becoming an actor.
The school’s owner, who mentored me artistically growing up, helped me realize at a young age that if I focused I could project an emotional immensity capable of turning a script into a tangible universe, transporting the audience, effecting them lastingly.
(I cry a little now remembering him telling me to focus, moving his hand straight down the center of his face until he appeared to be holding an imaginary feather right in front of his nose, “focus”. He would then point to the wall and say “look there, just there, focus”…
…ok, now I’m really crying.)
I became hooked on theatre. Performance is very very demanding, though, and sometimes I wonder if I am cheating myself by insisting that I am just a writer. Sometimes I wonder if my reservations are just laziness in disguise.
Originally, this blog was created to detail the process of me developing into the character ‘Kara’, a girl who probably would have made my life hell growing up, a girl quite my opposite, a woman who is incredibly fun to embody but very hard for me to understand.
I could not find her intention.
I understand my own intention, Rachel’s intention, for creating the show. The show is meant to inspire the audience’s interest in theatre and performance art. But, what the hell is Kara doing hosting it?
I scoured her heart for an intention but I was looking in the exact wrong place.
Kara doesn’t really have a heart.
It’s not worth it to give her a full range of emotions. Kara isn’t a character in a play. She’s a character in her own world, a world created just for her, a space where the only thing she needs to do is insure that the audience likes her so that she can keep her job, stay on TV and be adored forever.
The beauty and hilarity of a caricature is in it’s focus. Just find that one thing….
The one thing Kara needs is love from the audience. All she is doing is flirting with them. Always. Forever.
I could make up a whole biography about ‘why’, about the psychology of Neediness, about her childhood hopes and dreams that were perhaps squashed too soon but I don’t have to go there. I am not acting a story. There are no other people in Kara’s story.
After I figured out Kara, creating her and the show became effortless.
I delayed the editing process for a long time.
For one thing, the “footage” is shot on a Canon G8 which, if you don’t know, is a bridge camera from roughly 2010. It happens to have a video setting. That is how I shot the first season of my web series. I put the camera on a dinky tripod and voila.
We had mics but the audio has been wiped out (along with the video for an entire episode) because I left the memory card stranded in a bowl of magnets (AS IF I WERE MURDERING IT SLOWLY OVER TIME) so now the show is basically a whispered dialogue emanating from a usually tilted frame and all the while, and this is the main part of the torture, I am sitting up wearing clothing that doesn’t really fit, wearing makeup that doesn’t quite fit and a wig that, if I turn the wrong way, definitely struggles to fit.
It took me six months to watch the footage.
I really did not want to watch myself fail at being Pretty or Funny or Interesting enough to make my own web series.
I thought I would feel foolish.
But, I loved watching it.
I am, indeed, watching IT. Watching Kara. Watching this monstrous (kind of), annoying (kind of) very funny woman having a great time.
I don’t worry about my layer of fat that pools over my too-tight jeans which clearly don’t even allow for me to sit properly in the chair. I don’t worry about the size of my arms or my face or my hands. I don’t think about it while I am watching Kara.
I love her. It worked. I have notes for myself but it’s working. I can watch and I can laugh as I look for Effect.
I love crafting this show.
I watch Kara over and over again, waiting for the pull. Which moment inspires?
Each two minute episode is targeted towards one note of inspiration. Every moment must collect into a final button of artistic inspiration and then a comedic button and finally an end title.
For the past few years, every project I work on, I get to a point where I wonder: What is the formula here? Is there a point? How do we get there?
It sounds boring but it’s so helpful.
Everything is formulaic.
Every project has an end goal. The goal will be triggered by a button, a single moment that gives a terminating clarity to the event. Write down the button. Work backwards.
In this web series there are two artists: There is Kara the host and Rachel the creator.
Rachel’s goal is to inspire the audience’s interest in theatre and performance art.
Kara’s goal is to be really cute and famous and amazing.
Rachel’s goal deserves a button spoken and communicated by the guest in the interview.
Kara’s goal must be triggered by her self-involved actions.
When I watch Kara, I watch her crafting buttons. It is very funny. She is made for TV.
But when I reflect on the show, I should be thinking of the guest she was interviewing and the Effect of that artist’s discursiveness.
If the audience only remembers Kara, only Kara has succeeded. The show has failed.
BUT if she does not succeed at being loved, we will lose the audience.
Everything must be strong.
I watch the footage for hours.
I don’t love everything but I do love Kara. I did it.
I experience shame in the indulgence of the project because so much of my time, now, is being geared towards collecting an audience, sitting and thinking about who the audience is, journaling about the possibilities of releasing a fictional character whose only intent is self-aggrandizement, into an industry of individuals who work every day to master the art of understanding character intent, as if our intentions are always projected far beyond our own egos. We don’t.
Ideally everyone in the world is always acting in reflection of their intent towards others but most of us don’t spend every minute in This World. A lot of us are in our own little world a lot of the time and it would be wrong to only make work that projects ideals.
The beauty of Kara is that she inspires the audience to be better than she is. As a clown, she is just that: An absurd indication of something gone terrible wrong in humanity.
I love her so much.
If you want to fall in love, I’ve posted the preview below. Next Monday, the ball drops with episode one. I don’t know if it’s good. I don’t know if I am good at what I am doing. But, I believe in the Effect. I believe in focusing on Effect even if it means having people stare at me while I fight for my very clear intention. It’s something I learned early. It echoes now as I return.