I’m resurrecting my blog so as to keep a journal of my experience in the LSU graduate Theatre program. Everyone has a story and I hope you find some value in mine. My name is Alan R. White.
The year is 2013 and I have the world in my hand. I’m a working actor in Theatre Espresso, The Freedom Trail Foundation, and City Stage Company. My reputation in the theatre community, is that I’m professional, and reliable. Between the three ongoing companies and occasional work on the main stages in Boston, I can sometimes go for 2 years without a survival job and I own the studio apartment of my dreams. Everything is perfect.
But, then I went to see Twelve Years A Slave and I saw everything differently. There was a moment, in that film that changed my perspective of my entire artistic life. It wasn’t the emotionally wrenching scene where Chiwetel Eijofor’s character Solomon Northup, is forced to torture Patsey (played by Lupita Nyong’o). Its a different moment, or rather two moments that are worlds apart and very alike. When we first meet Solomon Northup in the beginning of the film, he’s walking in a park on a bright sunny day.
People are engaged in leisure activities around him. He is confident, and relaxed with his head high and his step sure. He’s secure in his world and in himself. And then, toward the end of the film, there is another similar scene. Solomon is walking on the plantation where he has been enslaved for twelve years. Its another bright sunny day. People are engaged in back breaking labor all around him. The composition of the scene is similar to the earlier one, but Solomon is transformed. His walk is stooped, and small as if every step is an attempt to be invisible. His gaze shifts from side to side like one who is in a constant state of fight or flight. He was still the same person but so changed from the one we met 2 hours earlier.
When I see this scene, this moment, this walk, I’m longer lost in the story. For the first time I’m able to see both the story and an actor’s craft as it plays out before me. Watching Chiwetel Eijofor in the moment, walking. Every one of my performances over the past thirteen years rushes back to my mind and I start to cry. Compared to what I see in just that walk, every all of my performances, are mediocre.
Something must change.
I’ve started a low carb diet to 1: see if I can make my stomach less squishy, and 2: Help reduce my risk of diabetes which runs in my family big time. I don’t want to go on an extreme keto diet even though people have had amazing results from it. I tell myself that I think the <20 grams of carbs would require habits I can’t sustain. Honestly though I’m repulsed by the idea of butter in my coffee. So I’m setting a limit of <100 carbs a day. That just feels more reasonable to me. Also I’m leaving my options open for cheat days.
Today is day 4 of eating low carbs and right away I’ve noticed that I’m thinking more about what I eat. My automatic snacks used to be something like crackers or a granola bar. I’d grab them as much out of habit as anything. Now when I go for a snack I need to take a moment to think about what I’m going to eat. This has helped me to recognize a lot of eating habits I want to change. Like the number of times a day I go for a snack when I’m not hungry, but I need a break from whatever I was doing. Another big realization was that I don’t sweets as much as I thought. I see a candy bar or a cupcake and have an impulse to buy it and eat it. Since that’s right out I plan what I will have when I get home. Shortly after I’ve left the store and the sweet treat isn’t in my line of vision I realize I’m not hungry and I don’t actually want the thing it was just there. I still feel those impulses almost like a addicted response but I know what they are and I leave the Take 5 bar alone. The range of foods available on the low carb diet are a big help. I’m lucky enough to like a lot of food so I don’t feel like my choices are limited to the levels that I’m suffering and I’ve adapted surprisingly quickly to coffee without sugar.