Danton Blogs (with a call to respond!)

I am the actor, Danton (Danny) Stone who plays Bobby Gould in David Mamet’s Speed The Plow at Theater J. I have few things to say about this gig – but first, a little background on my history:

In thirty years as a professional (paid) actor, I have been on the road (away from home, wife, kid, cat) at least twenty five times. Anywhere from three days to six months, everywhere from New Jersey to London, and throw in Manzanillo, Mexico, too. Basically, I wish I could stay in one place, but the newness of it all is a lure, too. This has been a very fine line, you see; I live on this line all the time. The line is this: I am secure with what is familiar to me, but I also crave the knowledge of, and the experience of, something totally new. I am also kind of a physical coward, as well as a homeboy of sorts, so acting, playing new roles, getting to know a writer I’ve never done before, or just doing a different kind of role, is a good M.O. for me. In other words: I love fiction because it’s safe, and unfamiliar at the same time. I can’t write, but I can act, so I do some deep pretending and if it all goes poorly, I can always lay the blame on the writer.

I hope you don’t think poorly of me for this. I have my good points, too. Hey, I’m just being honest – I think I am an honest actor (maybe my most attractive feature; or not) and I have enjoyed finding the honest spine of this guy Bobby Gould that D. Mamet has created. I am convinced that we had a good clean rehearsal process, although I think my own performance is filled with flaws and discoveries from night to night; again, what makes me good in the role might annoy some people as well.

You see, I really am trying to “be” Bobby every night – or be as much like him as me and the director have agreed upon him being. And it’s this very fluid process, in which I am filled with the muse of Mamet, and the Gods of grest acting at some moments and at others, well, let’s just say, I may fall short of that. In other words, I am in rhythm with the play, and I got most of my lines right, but I am sort of pedestrian in my humor and humanity onstage. Maybe not so scintillating.

Ouch. It hurts to say it but – tough boogers – the truth hurts, and I am supposed to be a truth-seeking actor, so here it is – I have spent the last seven weeks in a fever of finding this part, getting it good, and I worry about being good every time I do it, and that I’ll fail Mamet, his intention and the spirit in which he wrote this very good play.

Unsurprising for me, but since you are only meeting me now, I guess you should hear it: This is a public lab works for my daily journey into Bobby Gould, in the taking of him from page to stage, and making it seem like something that could touch the heart of one or five or fifty members of the audience watching.

This is my work, as I see it. Has it gone well? Swimmingly. Lovingly, stupidly, and sometimes magnificently. I am very happy with the investigation that Peter Birkinhead, Megan Grady and I do every night on this play. They are fantastic actors – very great in their own truth and their own sense of humor – I am so hungry to get to work tomorrow and to try to be good again that it’s ridiculous! But I know how lucky and privledged I am to be in a good play, and to have a good part, that I really feel this way. Also scared. Also I am very homesick for my wife, daughter, and cat. Also my books and my music. But this is my work, my obsession, my honor to do, and that is part of the price I will pay to do it.

Peace to all travelers , everywhere – write me back if you feel inspired. How do you work? What do you work on? And what ARE YOU WORKING FOR? That’s my question to any of you who may be listening.

All best,

Danton Stone (Danny)

2 thoughts on “Danton Blogs (with a call to respond!)

  1. I think one of the great things about working in theatre is that you’re your own product, and all the accumulated experiences of your life inform your art. It’s like the older I get, the more clearly I see (or think I see) the big picture.

    I’m a playwright and I try, with each play I start to write, to do something I haven’t done before. I always have an “experiment” to each play I write, but usually I find my work ends up being not nearly as experimental as I’d hoped; because my work is very character-based, I always get pulled into a linear storyline. I’d like to someday keep the character’s heart while being more adventurous. I’ve begun to toy with this in my shorter plays, messing around with time, playing with the fantastical. We’ll see.

    Thanks for an honest and thought-provoking post!

  2. Well, Danny, your life in the ongoing holy rehearsal process – with public allowed to witness your body and soul from time to time – certainly speaks to me. I spent the first dozen years of my adult life as a partner/performer in a theater company, lucky enough to tour the world and the US, wonderful creative, audience connecting moments and more “when theater happened”, met and journeyed with my wife to be, then wondering and wandering in NYC.
    … You talk about not having physical courage? !hey a lifetime of auditioning that you’ve done– your CV is your body and soul — (well, maybe Ari et al gave you a break on that part here) and then taking that all that effort again PHYSICALLY before an audience that is all expectation and includes people who even write publically about your body and soul!. Not too shabby on the courage front… Well, ultimately for me in NYC (sometime in the era of seeing your wonderful, fill that CIRCLE with rock and roll energy “Balm in Gilead”), maybe enough of that nausea of putting body and soul on the line (so”I’ll take a year to pursue other interests”), … well, 20 plus years later, many stories of Asia and elsewhere Phillipines with community development kindred spirits, Karachi and the Punjab – hard places then and now – but revitalizers of my belief in the human spirit…. let’s have a drink or come have dinner with wife, daughter, cats and others sometime. (Oh, and I’ll come see your on the beam Bobby Gould and buddies/bodies revelation one more time! Rock on and thank you for being here
    Stephen

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