Thursday, January 26, 2012

Drama: An Actor's Education by John Lithgow

I wrote in a previous post that throughout phases of my life, I practically grew up with John Lithgow through Footloose, 3rd Rock From The Sun and Dexter. I’ve seen plenty of other movies he’s been in and always admired him as an actor. When I saw this book I knew I had to read it. This is my first memoir I’ve ever read and of all the books out there, this was the one I chose and I'm so glad I did.

I loved the way the book started though it was rather sad. John Lithgow is caring for his parents, his father especially who had just gone through a major surgery and this once energetic man, so full of life, has seemed to lost the will to live. John begins reading from an old book that was a family favorite. It begins to awaken his father; he begins to laugh. It’s the power of storytelling at work. It was then I too was hooked.

We then go back to John Lithgow’s first performance and there we learn about his journey, the ups and down of one of my favorite story tellers around as he perfected his craft. It’s a fond retrospective with moments of disappointment and regret (as most would be I would think) that I found inspiring. There are moments that make you smile or feel giddy when he mentions actors, who, like him, were struggling to make a name for themselves but you know how their careers turn out (Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep). There's even a bit of an edge-of-your-seat anticipation as you await that moment when his film career really takes off.

There were also some moments where he felt conceited, very full of himself. But then I thought, well, what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with knowing what you’re good at? Why can’t you brag about your achievements? He earned it, he worked hard. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of what you've accomplished.

I’m not an actor and I don’t plan to be one but as an aspiring writer I found something in this: a storyteller will continue to tell stories, no matter what. And don't give up!

Overall this was a great reading experience for my first memoir. I was surprised how engaged I was reading about someone else's life. I'm so used to reading about big explosions, great escapes, worlds being conquered. It was nice to step away from all that and read about something real; something that actually happened. I guarantee, this will not be the only memoir or non-fiction book I read.

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