Let the games continue!

Meeting Stanislavski

        Dorsey High School, here in Los Angeles: At the time my prime interest was playing baseball and one day, signing a contract to play for a professional team. Studying and becoming a renowned scholar never entered my mind, at least not initially. My drive consisted of play, play, and more play.
        In the beginning, thoughts about anything other than baseball were nonexistent. I don’t recall ever using the word ‘discovery’ during those formative early high school years. I doubt if I ever opened a book during my first year of high school.
        So much of what they were teaching here, in the state of California, I had already learned during my grammar school days in New York City. Growing up in my family was a guarantee, we were all going to be good in math, or as my Dad referred to it: arithmetic.
        Like many immigrant parents, both my Mother and Father had very little formal education, but it didn’t keep them from excelling at almost everything they attempted to accomplish. They craved learning, it was their driving force, along with making a living and providing for the upbringing of three children: two sisters and da harv.
        One sister is six years older, and the other is nine years younger than me. Not exactly a well-planned household. The big separation of years between us created an enormous family upheaval on many occasions, mainly between my older sister and me. I never thought about my gift with words. Vocabulary and writing skills just happened to be there. Years later, one of the actresses explained to me: in a past life I probably knew how to speak Latin. My Mother claimed my vocabulary skills were derived, because she began reading to me from the time she first became pregnant with me.

        Year two, a freshman, brought with it: discovery. I actually began planning what I intended to study. By the end of my freshman year, I began to understand what our California teachers really had going for them, especially the women. Many of the female teachers had come to Los Angeles as aspiring actresses. The one I was lucky enough to have, this teacher, came equipped with degrees having to do with theater. Many of the production skills she picked up were derived from some of the most renowned fine art related universities in the country.

The song called out to me:

“Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera”
Jay Livingston/Ray Evans

Note: My favorite version is sung by one of my most favorite ladies, Doris Day.


        Day number one, on my first day ever in a legitimately-taught drama (acting) class. Our teacher had been an aspiring actress who ventured out, from the small town environment she had grown up in, to the movie mecca of the world. At the time, Los Angeles had many young, beautiful, and extremely-gifted teenage girls, discovering, along with their Moms, how overpoweringly competitive becoming a working actor would be.
        Her Mother had enrolled her talented daughter at Los Angeles High, at age fourteen. She graduated at age seventeen, and went on to earn her graduate and post-graduate master’s degree, supporting herself by waiting on tables at a very well-known Beverly Hills restaurant. Her skills as an exponent of the great Stanislavski, were far more than scholarly—this lady wasn’t pedestrian in any sense of the word. Concurrently, I was entering a period of my young life when my capacity and aptitude as a receptor began to show itself.

Location: alone on our high school stage, our very first beginning drill

Two students picked randomly:
The teacher had assigned us, each in our own way, to free form the recollection of an actual personal (true) experience encountered from any time period we chose from our past.

The first two students:
He and she had, in common, an incident they each chose to remember and bring forward during a drill in our first week’s drama class. Their story could have been funny, but it wasn’t. It could have been deeply dramatic, but none of us got their gist.

Note: Without exception, none of the students had heard the name “Stanislavski”.

        Not many high school teachers had past exposure to the teaching of the most prominent exponent of the great Stanislavski’s method, or system. Not until I began cutting classes and making it over to one of the many little neighborhood theaters, did I have any knowledge of who Stanislavski was. I was about to find out.


        Many of us, including yours truly, was required to try the same drill the first two students experienced that very first day. Our teacher moved around the room randomly choosing who would have their turn on stage. For no discernible reason, I was last to get up to perform. There I was, center stage. I took a comfortable breath and began to talk to them as if they were a crowd sitting in the stands, watching me pitch.

        “This feels like I’m on a pitching mound looking in at my catcher, just the way my Dad showed me how to do it.” The students began to laugh. (I shook off their laughter without anger.) “No. He really did teach me. He taught me a lot of things. I can remember a long time ago. It was one of those Saturday summer days, my Dad and I were at Ebbetts Field together, taking in a Dodger game together. They played their games in Brooklyn in those days. I’m smiling now, because that day with my Father is one I will remember for the rest of my life.” (The students became quiet, they seemed to lean in a little closer. “Tell us the rest of what happened next”, the teacher called out to me.) 
        I began again: “The Dodgers were up at bat. The game was on the line. My Dad told me to stay awake. We were sitting pretty close to where many of the foul balls were often hit. Up to the plate came my favorite Dodger of all time, Pee Wee Reese. Stay awake, my Dad said again. Then Pee Wee hits one up in the air and it came quickly our way. We all instantly stood up. My Dad raised up to his full height of five foot five inches, stuck his left arm up in the air, and low and behold made a bare-handed catch of that foul ball off the bat of my favorite dodger, Pee Wee Reese. God, I loved that guy, but I loved my Father more.” (The students applauded.)
        During the course of the semester our wonderful teacher often repeated the same drill as we all became aware she had, herself, learned as a working actress and student of the great Stanislavski.


        The word STUDY may not occur to those in the earliest stages of discovery itself. Study is imperative as a driving force for anyone and everyone who is held captive by even a modicum of flowing creative juices so presented by nature’s indelible will. An absolute necessity in the cultivation of lasting and prominent skills.
        STUDY and DISCOVERY are essentially the same PROVIDER, bringing forth both conscience and subconscious enlightenment, without which these two ingredients, creativity becomes nothing more than a burdensome and unrewarding task. That was then, and this is now. I never go a single day without both of those marvelous ingredients entering, and reentering, my treasury.
        When I returned home from Korea, neither study nor any human pertinence allowing for who I really was at that moment in time, was anything I intended to share from my private thoughts. In other words, looking back, I was quite introspective. Two short years later, what I considered a fixation became a fact of life.


        May I please take a moment to acknowledge a few persons before me, who taught me the how and why systems work, for all or any who fall to the long and often fickle deceptions of creativity.
Note: My acknowledgements are now complete. I chose to make them introspectively; often it’s what I do as I prepare to write my next piece, or am in the process of delivering a verbal discourse in a most intimate flow of words. Often during trying times, the likes of what we are now experiencing during this plague, I can easily conjure, at my will, the very image of my Dad reaching up, catching that ball, then instantly handing it off to his adoring young son as the crowd cheered him on to new heights!

“Dear God, let the games continue!”


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