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GUEST POST: The Better Way

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This week I invited Benjamin Hodge to join B.A.B.E. and share his insights in the acting world. It’s always nice to get some new fresh perspectives. Ben writes a wonderful blog called the BH Studios Blog and one of my favourite pieces from his collection was Overcoming the Hater Wall which he released late last year.

I approached Ben with an idea, that of him being over there (PA) and me being over here and our connection. It is all about how our working worlds resonate with the same general undertones for acting, no matter where we are, and no matter what part of the business we are in. And in true Ben style, he came up with this lovely post ‘The Better Way’, just for all my B.A.B.E. readers. Enjoy!

The Better Way
– By Benjamin Hodge

I’m not sure we realize how much power we have as actors and creatives.  We have the power to truly influence one’s emotions and feelings.  We can move people to tears, laughter and rage.  We can make people think about their own personal lives and choices just by the words we say and the power with which we say them.  Actor, writer, director, creative: you are powerful.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.  Your stories, performances and choices are tsunami-force waves that overtake people without warning.  They can sneak up on the viewer like a thief in the night.  But I wonder today, are we really okay with sharing these stories?  Are we okay with discovering and being moved by these stories?

I wish I could admit that I can always predict or see these stories coming…looking out over the ocean of people I come in contact on a daily basis to see the people who are hurting, coping or dealing with some issue or concern.  It can be so easy to miss these things.  It’s so easy to keep to the content of our lives rather than the connection to those around us.  If I’m honest, I think many of us miss so many stories that are all around us.  We become selfish thinkers, believing that we are the only ones who could be feeling this way.  We fail to realize that there are countless numbers of people in this world who are experiencing or have experienced what we often keep to ourselves.  We hold back as actors because we worry about what people think about us.  We hold back as writers because we are afraid our words just won’t come out right.  We make decisions to please the masses instead of making the one that works best artistically and creatively.  We often spend more time running from the truth, hiding it, or covering it up with false pretenses.  

Why do we fear this truth?  Why do we as creatives find more ways to play it safe rather than making the bold choice?  Perhaps it’s because so many of us go through life not concerned with this “stuff:” it’s too emotional, damaging, depressing or non-academic.  We have to get over this idea that our true selves, our hurts, fears and regrets should be covered up so that only our joys and pleasantries can be shared or experienced.  Our stories have the power to change lives.  They have the power to change perspectives.  They smash stereotypes and destroy prejudices.  How?  Simply because they are truth.  No one can take our stories away from us.  No one.  When we find the courage to share your stories we find freedom, purpose and connection.  Don’t forget that.  What would happen if we would make this freedom, purpose and connection the norm instead of the exception?  What if it was weird to keep things to yourself when given the opportunity in the right environment to share?  Wouldn’t life be a more enriching experience?  Wouldn’t we understand the true nature of communication, communion and connection?   

But can’t we change this?  We can start right now.  We have to find a better way.  People ask me what that better way is.  I discovered this call a few years ago when creating a play about the real stories of 21st century teens called REACH (More info here and here).  And I think five years removed from that discovery, I am beginning to understand what the better way is.  It is finding the courage and strength to share our stories with another human being.  It is sharing that story with someone else.  And in that sharing, in that opening up, there is the true better way.  We can alter the landscape of that very time and space.  We look at each other differently.  The better way is understanding a person for who they REALLY are, warts, scars and shortcomings and all.  It’s getting past all of the niceties and formalities and cutting deep into the core of ourselves and who we really are. 
 
Here’s the thing: we can’t get there if we don’t find ways to share with others. And the beauty of this sharing can look different for us all.  If we write, may we write stories that continue to expose truth.  If we act, may we give truthful, moment-focused performances that move audience and actor harmoniously.  As we live, may we find ways to allow others to see that which is often left unseen…our true selves.

May we not forget the power that we all have: to change, influence and affect all who come in contact with us onstage, on the page, on film, in the casting room, or in real life.  Here’s to us all recognizing that power, harnessing it, protecting it and finding the courage to share it with others.     

 
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About our B.A.B.E. guest writer Ben:
 
Ben Hodge has been acting and directing for 20 years in a variety of formats. He has directed several productions in York, PA and had his play REACH performed in NYC at an Off-Broadway venue in 2009. Ben studied English and Acting at Messiah College and received his Masters in Education from Penn State University. After the success of REACH, the hit play about the hidden issues of 21st Century teens, Ben started acting classes in the York, PA area and created Ben Hodge Studios in October 2009. His main goal is to bring a high-level, professional acting workshop to York, PA that is modeled after professional workshops with influences by Uta Hagen, Sanford Meisner and David Mamet. Ben has been the only acting teacher at local Central York High School for the past 10 years where he has developed an innovative and fresh curriculum for young actors aged 13-24. This curriculum and workshop format is now available to the greater York area with hopes of training and leading new actors to the realization that acting is a more than just a hobby or pastime: it is an honorable profession and a way of life. His connections with New York City, LA and local talent agencies are now being offered to anyone who joins the Studio classes and have opened the doors for many already joined. He currently runs classes and offers private acting coaching via Skype. Email: benhodgestudios@gmail.com

2 Comments

  • Ben Hodge Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing! I hope this encourages more people to (re)discover the power of sharing and connection. So glad about this opportunity!

  • Angela Peters Reply

    I can't agree more Ben. Sharing truly is the most amazing thing. A group of actors I know in London have all been helping one another out with pilot season audition tapes and workshops and it honestly reminds me that doing the 'job of acting' together is so much more rewarding, inspiring and fun, than going it alone.
    Long may the sharing continue!

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