Talent or Experience?

As in the case of life as we know it to be, all answers are dependent on both experience and talent. Unless that is, you fall into one of the many cases of those too young to understand either or both terminologies. 

In the world of the subjective art form, early on talent — which is seemingly derived by some heavenly force often described as “God given” — it is often taken for granted by those who have it, and envied by those who don’t.
For the sake of what I have to say, I beg you to please leave out computer games, Linked In, Linked Out, Facebook, Disgracebook, hallucinatory people, tweeting (except the sounds made by birds), or the sounds attributable to excessive flatulence, human or otherwise.
My Mom and Dad used to have heated arguments regarding the subject of luck as opposed to developed skills. Dad believed in developed skill, while my Mother, who was an ardent gambler throughout her lifetime, was a great proponent of heavy-duty luck. Both Mom and Dad were extremely courageous people; she loved any form of chance taking, and he would remind her that he took his chances by being in business. Anyone who happens to be in the business world today would have to agree with my Father. Experience has made me a great believer in my Father’s doctrines.
Dad: “Study hard, work hard, you gotta make it”.
Mom: “Bullshit Charlie, I’ll take luck anytime, anyplace, anywhere!”
I grew up in a strange environment. Both Mom and Dad were very talented people. Mom was a gifted dancer. She had all the moves. When she moved her hips it put Elvis to shame. It was a God-given gift, but she and her sisters (there were eight brothers and sisters in their household) never stopped practicing.
Needless to say, young immigrant girls were greatly influenced by the likes of Mom’s favorite, Ginger Rogers. Dad was a numbers whiz. Math was his thing. It was a God given attribute. Couple that with an amazing ability to retain just about anything he saw, and you have quite a guy.
As an example of his skill, I’m reminded of a first hand experience I had as an adult. Dad and I were out on some sort of business meeting at a prospect’s home. We waited in the entryway of the house and, without saying a word Dad walked over to the grand piano — a mainstay of the room — and began to run his fingers beautifully over the keys.
I was absolutely blown away as I watched and listened. I was aware my Dad could carry a tune — he was always singing something to me as a kid — but I had never seen him play any instrument before. After the meeting, I couldn’t wait to question him about his ability to play the piano.
Dad pointed out to me that with nine brothers and sisters there was always a musical instrument being played. His Mother had some strict requirements for all of them.
All nine of her children spoke at least two languages. Grandma was a true and gifted linguist. There were no dialects allowed in their household. English was a must as the first language. There were pages upon pages of piano sheet music on top of the family piano at all times. The brothers and sisters learned a great deal of the English language by singing together around the piano. It was at these sing-alongs that my Father learned a thing or two about playing the piano by watching my uncle Sidney as he practiced. To this day, it’s hard for me to fathom — a guy teaches himself to play the piano by watching his younger brother practice.
So, with the family heritage I disclosed to you, you now have a thumbnail inkling of how da harv’s life’s direction may have taken shape. Whether or not my direction was a correct one for me to have taken; it beats the hell out of merely standing there physically waiting, and mentally praying.
I believe both my Mother and Father were correct in their assumptions. Skillfulness is required, luck is cool; the two of them together most likely bordered on euphoria.
“The Battle of the Young and Almost Never Mighty”
The premise that follows is one I devoutly believe in. The doctrines which I assumed as an educator, combine all I have to offer based on what I have experienced and now know to be true regarding the human condition of any (and all) who take a subjective art form as their life’s direction.
If your easel is setup on a railroad track to glean a stupendous sight line, and you hear the rumbling of an oncoming train, it becomes a time to make an important decision.
Do you remain on the track in order to finish your life’s work? Or do you change direction and remove yourself from the track?
Because you are very young and live by yourself, with no family to concern you, the decision-making process is singular. What you do is what you do
My Personal Experience
I quickly reasoned that the train wasn’t going to stop or change direction, unless I became lucky. I wasn’t going to follow my Mother’s doctrine.
Did I tell you I was a married man with two children not yet in their teens? I got off the tracks and watched as the train roared by crushing my easel to tiny bits. As my Dad had told me I could always buy another easel.
Enter The Masters
What did all the others before me have in common? Most had stood transfixed on tracks, some leading to the highest precipice known to us common men and women. We seek to go in a constant upward direction. It’s the right desire to have. Those who think and know their’s is a destiny as a loser, will definitely succeed with that determination.
My choice was to become as skillful at my craft as I possibly could. All the masters, each and every one of them, agreed with my Father and with my choice for a life’s direction.
I discovered from my mentors that teaching and learning is a process — never the same, as it is never ending. Learning must be a forever direction. A subjective form is one we may see and hear as an individual. Few writers, directors, or actors ever fully master a subjective art form, for the form they seek to master is one of constant change.
Constant Change is the Process
If a person found out that they were the only person inhabiting this earth, then what they discover could be called a new and modern process. Not withstanding this never-to-happen hypothetical, the Masters all agree that advancements in any of the subjective art forms comes at a price — time. The time that is yours and only yours will ever bear the responsibility for your success.
Her look was priceless
So was his
He was tall and mighty
She also tall of stature
Together moving sprightly
A very small world cheered them
They sold all sponsors whims
From beer and wine
And lingerie with a secret
Rarely speaking
Neither could talk or sing
Then one day
The time it did pass
This mighty man and statured lass
They had remained on a track
With features that didn’t last
As an aside, I might offer this tidbit of inside dope: I have to admit to you, one and all, that I get a particular pleasure in having a piece of information or two that only I and the teller will ever know.
Wouldn’t you love to know who the person with a single line writing credit on a major network show really is? You’re not going to get it from me. But, I will give you this much… A long time ago, this writer was told (he or she, or she or he) they were too old to understand the working of the today’s younger minds. One day, a very long time after, a show was purchased from and by an individual not capable of letter assemblage. In other words, the person presumed to be a writer was, in fact, a moronic dolt. (So, it certainly isn’t me I’m talking about.)
What I will tell you for sure, is that those who study the Masters will always be the ones who have the ability to get on track and then change direction when the need arises ensuring that they will always have the innate ability to rise to whatever the so-called pundits determine as the “needs and entertainment vehicles” of this modern generation.
A generation arises from the ashes or the remains of a previous generation. What modernity often forgets is the most salient point of all: it rises, not falls. As Stanislavski so beautifully pointed out to the modern folks of his time, “My Method is a process.” Spoken circa 1911 and still going strong!
I will also bring to your attention that folks like Richard Boleslavsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Michael Chekhov, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Harold Clurman, Robert Lewis, Sanford Meisner, Uta Hagen, Ion Cojar and Ivana Chubbuck all trace their pedigrees to Stanislavski.
I take great pleasure in stating a fact of life: I discovered the great Stanslavski way back as a seventeen year old in high school. It thrilled me to hear about the great names of the time all talking about the method, and about method acting as experienced by the likes of Marlon Brando, James Dean and all those marching their way to unbelievable success after studying in and continuing to study at “The Actors Studio.”
Our promise remains that Kalmenson & Kalmenson will continue to stay young, informed, and will continue to provide the most current and up-to-date curriculum available for the working, as well as the unemployed actor.
Stay young by studying the masters with the masters.


  1. Very enlightening train of thought (pun intended). I need to go back to voice class. Carrying with me a good dose of confidence, tempered with an even larger virtue: humility.

  2. Richard Petty once said, "The best you can do on any given day is put yourself in a position to win, then circumstanses will dictate the outcome."

    That encompasses both training and luck.

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