Saturday, May 24, 2008


The hardest thing to find in life is balance. Labor with reward. Dreams with realization. Dedication with appreciation.

And too often lately (perhaps as ever) it feels like the contributions of artists to our society are valued less than other forms of commerce.

When I was acting, I learned a kinship with others who toil to entertain the public. Athletes, professional wrestlers, circus performers, musicians, we're all in the same line of work. What we do all comes down to the abilities within our own bodies.

And because of that, there's a thread in our genetic codes that was written in the days when entertainers were outcasts, reviled for not contributing to the productivity of the state, at first by not planting and harvesting and then by not giving their bodies over to the factories and mills.

Believe it or not, I remember a time when you had trouble renting an apartment in Toronto if you said you worked in the theatre. And listing your profession as that of a musician or actor meant paying a month in advance for phone service.

But that little string of genes we carry, despite cellular memories of being burned at the stake or driven from villages after singing for an undelivered supper, still leads us to believe that by physicalizing some human truth, we enrich and enhance the lives of our fellow man.

And few understand just how hard we do have to work to provide what others consume during their moments of relaxation.

I can't conceive of what it must feel like to be married to a writer, wondering if that sudden silence or distant stare is creativity or something I said. I don't know how anyone who leads a normal life copes with the rattling of a keyboard that can roll relentlessly through the night or a long weekend because the muse is working or a deadline looms.

I can't comprehend the amount of time and sweat it takes to get to the Cirque du Soleil, or become a Tiger Woods or a Brett "The Hitman" Hart. But I remember reading a study in theatre school that said an actor playing Hamlet burns more energy in a single performance than a steel worker does during an eight hour shift. And I know the utter mental, physical and spiritual exhaustion that envelopes me at the end of a season of writing or producing.

Which brings me to these guys.

I don't believe there's enough money in the world to reward the amount of work what you're about to see requires. I do know it's a bit strange and some of you may feel a little "icky" watching it. But, as the opening words of the Mahabarata promise, "You will be a different person at the end of this."

Because that little fibre of DNA that inhabits performers is right. Performance is truth. Even if it only tells us how hard it is to find balance.

Enjoy your Sunday.

1 comment:

Brandon Laraby said...

Wow. Just Wow.

I've seen some crazy stuff before (usually on CCTV 3 or similar :P) but never that.

I wonder what show that was from - CCTV 3's a Chinese Channel, maybe it's something like a more formal version of "Who's the Hero" (?). (A loose translation at best... lol)

Totally wanna get that song in the background, I think it was Russian. Anyone know what it was?