By Kathy Deitch
"...for what brings us more JOY than SEEING and BEING SEEN?" – Marianne Williamson
I heard that sentence last week at a lecture that Marianne was giving and although it was probably the 1000th time I'd heard it, it resounded in my heart-space like it was the first time.
I connected that to my feeling about Art, capital-A Art in the general and then to acting in the specific. Under the umbrella of Art lives the act of writing, painting, filming, building, directing, teaching, creation in any form, really, but that simple sentence is my bottom line when it comes to acting. It has been called many things: The White Moment, Being Zen, the Holy Instant but it always is the very moment the veil of separation comes down and you stand in a moment of Truth. THAT is the thing that drives me; it drives me as an actor, as a writer, as a teacher, as a singer, as a dancer. I'm busy being free in the Truth while the world looks on a thinks I'm in "character"- it's pulling a fast one for sure. You get to express your point of view, how you actually feel about things and no one is the wiser. Onlookers get to call you a "great actor."
When Harry Connick Jr. was on American Idol as a mentor and challenged the contestants to sing THEIR version of a song, not someone else's, the panel of judges looked at him like he shook the stars out of the sky. Yet he made such sense: you start at the beginning, you use the text, you hear the tune, and you allow it to DO something to you and THEN you find YOUR point of view in that. Finally, you learn to be brave enough to let an audience to experience the you without filter, that you who is a creature of holy instinct. That's why we call it 'Brave'...'Courageous'...'Transforming.'
The first time I felt that allowing, that sweet relief of living in the moment, I was a senior in high school doing GODSPELL. Our director and musical director decided to have the cast sing "On the Willows" which was usually left for the band to sing. It's a beautiful song from scripture: "On the willows there, we gave up our lyres for our captures there required of us songs of our forbearers birth; but how can we sing? Sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?" As I hugged my best friend playing Jesus goodbye, it became very clear to me this was a real goodbye in many ways: goodbye to high school, goodbye to my hometown, goodbye to a stage I had spent my years celebrating Life upon with my dear classmates. Singing "How can we sing?" became a transcendent moment.
And a miraculous thing happened: the audience shared it with me and I felt their understanding, empathy and TRUTH in return.
I was SEEN.
And then was the SEER.
That JOY I have craved ever since.
Now, as a teacher, I have found the hyper-focus to watch someone slowly unfold into this journey of Truth and it is a whole different White Moment altogether. To really listen to someone, to really hear them and really see them so they can drop the veil that separates us, that is where Spirit abides as well. That is the only word my Catholic heart will let me use. It is Spirit. It is Truth. It is the One that we all are.
In an modern age where disconnect is the norm, magnified by technology that makes it so easy to hide, keeping us from being with one another even while at the same table, these moments of SEEING are precious commodities. And to take it further, I believe they can heal the World.
Kathy Deitch is a talented performer, as well as audition coaching specialist here at Broadway U.
Kathy Deitch recently played Catherine/Senator Martin in the LA cast of Silence! The Musical (LA Weekly Award Winner) & made her LA acting debut at the Hollywood Bowl in RENT directed by Neil Patrick Harris. Broadway: WICKED (original company), FOOTLOOSE (original Urleen); HAIR at both City Center's Encores! and European Tour (Crissy) and much, much more.
She has brought her Audition Boot Camp to students of all ages across the country including Wagner College, UCLA, Pace University, University of Hartford and has been a special guest at the School of Rock and Stella Adler Conservatory, both in NYC & LA and VocalizeU. She has coached some of Broadway's biggest starts, including but not limited to Tony award nominee Stephanie J. Block!