We’re all sitting around my dining room table working on masks together. I’ve got room, so my living room-dining room became studio space. I looked up for a moment at everyone, so relaxed, diligently working together, pleasantly chatting, helping one another. And it just really hit me.
The task was for each to complete our own mask for a Movement Class held on UT Campus. It was part of the two-year program, A Working Group Acting Conservatory taught by Brock-Allen Casting here in Austin. This program focuses on on-camera work, auditioning and preps the ‘whole actor’ and, courtesy of the wonderful teaching and guidance of Toni Brock and Sally Allen, offers invaluable advice to help you take your acting career to the next level.
To create the masks, we had to work closely together. It turned out to be a laborious two-day process, not counting all the schlepping to gather supplies. Cutting small bandage-like swatches of gauze, greasing our faces up to be covered with layers of stucco-like plaster, finding a way to breathe while it was applied. Don’t cover nose holes. Don’t be claustrophobic. The prepping, the painting, the cleanup. Not to mention, on big reveal night, my face reacting to my mask’s acrylic latex paint. How could I forget? Aw, latex, that’s right.
But, there we sat working together and I looked across the table at them. They are all very kind. They are all different, yet considerate, professional, punctual, courteous. All interesting. All talented. Always committed to the task, to do the best they can do, whatever the project. And, how rare is this in any group, let alone a bunch of actors, there’s not one toxic person in the bunch.
I keep a small inner sanctum of close friends. I don’t let many people in. Old habits, things I’ve learned. But, I looked at them and said, “You know, when I started this class, I expected to like all of you. Which I do. But, what I didn’t expect, was to fall in love with you.” We all laughed. And, dryly, Brian Bogart said, “Yeah, it wasn’t part of the deal.” I said, “Yeah, right? Damn!” We laughed. But, I’ll tell you, what’s amazing, it’s still held true all this time.
And, as much as we’ve all done together since, working on those masks those two days that first fall was, perhaps, my most favorite time of us being together. We began in the fall of 2015 and are now at the end of our two years. Even at first, we became a close family. The deal is, we thoroughly enjoy each other. We’re not competitive with each other. We like each other. We love each other. And for actors, let me tell you, that’s more than rare. How did I get so lucky?
Our group’s changed a bit since that weekend. We started out a package of eleven and a few have gone their separate ways, but we’re still all close. So, wherever we go next, however far we travel apart, I say to you, my A Working Group Fam, Ammie Leonards, Brian Bogart, Laura Galt, Lorelei Supapo, Emily Farr, David Amador Bauman, Mohammad Ahmed, Lindsay Mabry, Arie Guerra, Cody Tilton, always, you have my heart. -– By Martha Hannah — Photo Credit: Larry Dowell