Kathleen O'Neill – Creative Catalyst


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SHAPING YOUR CHARACTER’S CONSCIOUSNESS – THE BONES

Thank you John. Great read – even better when put into practice!

The Science & Art of Acting for the Camera

images-3I marvel at actors who believe memorizing their lines and saying them on cue constitutes their prep for a scene. What about investigating the depths of their characters?

The kind of actor who doesn’t bother to dig below the surface will consequently never find the things that make their characters tick, or the qualities that make them unique. They will never find the character’s emotional life, an aspect that is crucial to connecting with the audience. The result? Lackluster performances that are tedious to watch.

Granted, some scripts are better than others at giving clues to who the characters are but regardless of the words on the page, how can we, in our job as interpreter of those words, make the characters come to life in such a way that engages the audience?

We need to create a background that informs our character’s consciousness. In real life, things happen to…

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Quick Thoughts on a Photo

So interesting! So there I am about to have my breakfast of toast and 2 hard boiled eggs (whites only) when I see my March copy of Vogue. The thought that this would be the perfect time to look at some gorgeous clothes just makes sense! And sure enough, as I page through the first few photographs I am chewing and thinking that more than the toast is yummy! Just checking out the pictures – glancing til a color or line of the fabric catches my eye and deserves 4 seconds instead of 2. I turn the page and look right, then left and go to turnwhen my mind lights flash. I stop and go back, left. And there she is, beautiful, looking out a window into the far distance like the visionary she is, and I start to laugh for she is clothed in black and white and framed with white walls and a black frame around the window. I laugh for the way we try to box/package a person in a way that serves what we want and/or need. She is the least black and white of all the candidates. She has been open, willing and courageous in creating her journey.

Her openness is there for all to see. She has lived a very public life and somehow has managed to keep a part of herself private. That is called sanity. A lesson in this current electronic age that we all need to learn.

She has been willing to listen to differing points of view, to ponder difficult issues and to take necessary actions. She has changed and grown and will continue to do so for the rest of her life. This is important to me. I don’t want someone who thinks they know it all to have their finger near any of the “buttons”.

Courageous is her core and centered in her love for this country and the process of democracy. Her life has been spent in pursuing and strengthening the very foundation of its ideals. Do I always agree with her, no. Do I support her, yes.

She is a symphony and maybe that is what concerns some people. As the Emperor said to Mozart, “too many notes”. Not only has she created a symphony, she clearly has the creative vision to conduct a symphony as well. We have 319,000,000 “notes” in our country’s population and are adding every day. I want a conductor who understands the importance of the relationships of each and all the notes. I believe that Hilary Clinton is such a conductor.

Thank you Vogue! WOW! You made my day!


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FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS

Follow your dream wherever it leads.

Don’t be distracted by less worthy needs.

Shelter it, nourish it, help it to grow.

Let your heart hold it, down deep where dreams go.

Follow your dream, pursue it with haste, life is too precious, too fleeting to waste.

Be faithful, be loyal, then all your life through the dream that you follow will keep coming true.

Larry S. Chengges


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Wrapping up 2014

What, if anything, do you do to wrap up your year? For me, this week between Christmas and New Year’s has been a gift because I have been able to reflect and dream and plan and wish and let go of the “To Do” lists. The holiday busyness is over and I have chosen to spend time with myself.

I had a good year, 2 terrific shows with great roles. I actually got to sing and dance again. Also, told a story about a family growing beyond their sense of what “should” be. I continue to work on my new business and have had to admit it is a little more complex than I had initially thought. The process has been a good teacher. As I transition from the “day” job into my real work I am building bridges instead of burning them.

In my dream time, it isn’t just that I have a recurring role on TV and that the my top 3 roles I want to perform on stage are mine and will be done in the next 5 years and I have a thriving side business helping people realize their dreams. It is that I can feel and smell and hear and see and touch each of these dreams. I color them and add music to them and populate them with people I know and love and people who I don’t have any idea who they are. They are my dreams and the source of inspiration and joy in my life.

And so I have a clear plan that I believe will succeed. Well, maybe not always so clear and yet, definitely a plan. It has built in flexibility and a firm belief that persistence, intention and joy filled work can accomplish what I want to do.

Wishes are supposedly the things of childhood. For me, they are the releasing of possibility, the exploring of passion and the giving of a quiet part of ourselves to another. So I will continue to indulge in releasing the child and deepening my awareness of life.

This is the best part, the letting go. It has taken so many years and so many experiences to understand the importance of this action. It is life affirming and a true act of love.  To know that I can let go of the should; that I can let go of what doesn’t work, that I can make great mistakes and have great success and that it all nurtures me and expands my understanding of life.

I like the silence and am always inspired by what comes forth.  I get to ramble during this week. I get to let my mind wander. I don’t make resolutions anymore, having found them to be sources of judgment, another way to let the outside world determine who I am and what value I hold in life. I know that I/we have value because we exist. You are a wondrous work of art. Happy New Year! Thanks for traveling with me!

The words of Ellen Burstyn echo my own thoughts and intentions.  Good grist for the New Year.

From her book, “In the Thick of It”

“I was exploring the nature of the feminine hero and how she was different from a heroine. I’d read somewhere that a hero goes out into the world, meets his enemy, prevails, and founds a new order, while a heroine simply endures. I felt that a feminine hero goes out into the world, meets her enemy, which in one form or another is the limitations imposed on her by her culture, and she not only endures, she also prevails and founds a new order.

I guess I was trying to create a new myth for women.

I didn’t succeed, but success isn’t the only gauge of the value of an effort.”


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Lazy Hazy Days of August

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”

Sam Keen, noted American author, professor, and philosopher

I couldn’t agree more and yet, it seems to me we have lost the ability to thoroughly enjoy our laziness – the lazy hazy days of summer in August are so important to our well-being and they are upon us!     

I have to confess I still have not indulged the virtue of laziness. So much going on and I get caught in that “THERE ISN’T ENOUGH TIME!” syndrome. I know how important it is for me to do nothing. Still, there is always something to do, especially in the age of electronics. I’m watching the news as I write this – how bad is that! – I am so busted!

So the TV is now off and the quiet releases the Creative Catalyst.

I believe strongly that until I can center my self in quiet, turn off the mind noise and lower the volume on the world chatter I can’t really access my creative core. Meditation is a daily practice for me, I am talking about more than that. I am talking about giving myself the gift of being lazy. The gift of hanging out in a hammock staring off into space, ignoring the lists of things to do and take the elevator instead of the stairs like I know I “should”. Shutting down the “shoulds”.

So before the back to school days and the new beginnings of September I am giving myself the rest of August off! I am putting away deadlines and going to the park and a picnic blanket, to Coney Island and the sounds of squeals of delight and the feel of sticky fingers from cotton candy. I am going to regenerate and discover and ignite my inner core. It is a long winter in the northeast and I want to be ready for it with the warm memories of those lazy hazy August days. Join me?

Aug blog 430x306

 


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July – My Personal Story

Welcome to Creative Catalyst’s first blog entry!  Before we delve into other topics, I think it’s important, and fun, to get to know each other a little better.  Here’s a bit about me:

My early years were spent in the mid-west – Wisconsin – on a lake in a large Irish Catholic family with 6 brothers.  Doors weren’t locked and everyone knew everyone’s business.  Adults were adults and children wanted to be adults.  An interesting world.  As a little girl I would play dress up and tell stories and play all the characters.  The dining room table could be opened to make a puppet stage, stairs became the grand entrance, pillows made strong walls for a fort – to protect or defend or attack!  There were summer evenings on the porch listening to my dad tell us stories, or recite poetry.  I was able to go out the doors of my house and explore the world freely.  My bike took me further than my feet and eventually the car further than the bike.  The richest journeys, for me, were into the world of books and my imagination.

Why write about this?  Because the past and my experience of it are the riches that I dive into to do my art.  Today I am a director and an actor because of my rich history and because I believe that is what makes me alive and passionate.  I go back to my history, not to blame or feel put upon, oh no!  I go back to expand my creative energies, to express and explore and be greater than any of those memories.  For they are memories and only memories.  Today, I want you to think about all the wonderful mysteries and secrets you may hold from your history.    I believe that, like me, you can draw on this history and make your life rich with creation.

Following is an exercise you can try:

  • Write down 3 vivid memories that bring you joy
  • Write down 3 vivid memories that make you uncomfortable
  • Tell the story of one the above – as long or as briefly as you choose.  Use any format you want to – writing, painting, song, poetry, collage………….

Remember that the above work is done quickly – trust your first thoughts.  Just write them down, no judgment just write.  See what happens.  Would love to hear from you about your discoveries.  Share your stories in the comments section below.

See you next month!