I had the extreme pleasure of being cast in Parker Player’s production of Twelve Angry Men, directed by Richard Dominick last year at this time. I was jurer #3 and found the anger required for that character quite easily. Apparently, anger is my strong suit as an actor. Who knew? Um, everybody!
So along comes the opportunity to work with Parker Player’s again, playing McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Once again, being directed by Richard Dominick. Richard and I spoke about the challenges this role presented for me as an actor. I usually give off a pretty confident air in most situations, but inside it’s a different story. For me as a person and an actor, I usually tend to doubt myself first when presented with something new, or out of my comfort zone. My very first thought is “I can’t do that, or I’ll never be able to master/learn that.” I am a corporate trainer and facilitate courses on having a growth mindset, but I guess it’s a case of do as I say not as I do. I must make a conscious effort to reassure myself that I can do it and that I am more than capable of learning and growing as a person and actor. The rehearsal process started, and I was struggling to find McMurphy. Apparently “charming” isn’t as easy for me to find as anger. Richard reminded me, often, that I should not be angry, but instead charming. Apparently, he had to remind me a few too many times and at one point said, “maybe you should just go watch the movie.” Not too deflating, right?! But it worked. There was no way I was going to watch the movie. I was going to be the charming damn it!
I began to tap into the “growth mindset”, to practice what I preached, and to reassure myself that I could conquer all the challenges of this role, make it my own and ensure my interpretation was one that encompassed all the layers and characteristics of Randle Patrick McMurphy. I realized I just needed to relax, trust myself, the text, my fellow actors, my director, and being okay with struggling, because struggling is part of the process of learning and developing. Slowly, ever so slowly I started to feel more comfortable in McMurphy’s skin and was able to find more of the charm that was missing. Have I achieved the pinnacle of charm? Well, let’s just say this, Richard said I wasn’t quite Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra on the charm scale, but more like Jerry Vale, google him, so at least I’m moving in the right direction.
I would be remiss if I didn’t call out the amazing group of talented folks that I have the pleasure of working with on this production and that help me every step of the way with their skill, support, and patience as I try to bring McMurphy to life. Every single actor is bringing their “A” game and I am in awe as I watch them do what they do so well. The production team is second to none and I am so appreciative of all they do for very little recognition. A special shout-out to Joel Avitia for making a really hard decision for the sake of the show. I still think you would have rocked. And for Richard, who despite our rocky first meeting, took a chance on me, and who I now consider my friend. I am happy to be taking on yet another challenge under his guidance.
Guy Sullivan plays Randle P McMurphy