The work is where it’s at, man!


Guy carving out the work on his favorite Carver skateboard.

by Guy Camilleri

I recall studying in New York with the late and great teacher and director, Gene Frankel. I was fortunate to have him as a teacher, mentor, and friend for seven years. The biggest lesson learned from Gene was that, first and foremost, it’s about the work and the life experiences manifested as a result of putting in the work.

That lesson and many others were profound, and I’m happy to say are still applicable to my life today. I frequently hear his voice resonate in my acting and coaching and I appreciate him deeply for his contributions to the theater, and for being my teacher.

Acting is a soulful and lonely journey. Actors are alone frequently and as a result, confronted with loneliness; stumbling their way through sides (pages we get for an audition), learning lines, rehearsing, and at times, that long drive home from auditions! It’s the life of an artist and what sets us apart from other artistic pursuits is that we — body, intellect, and emotions — are the instruments.

There is no piano, no easel, laptop or a large wall to paint murals on. There is only the human being we are now telling a story, painting a picture with words and imagery, drawing from our emotions within the given circumstances established in the play or screenplay and from what is literally happening to us at the moment. With trial and error in hand, I continue to re-discover and remind myself that the joy and the solace are in the work. It’s where it starts and where it ends.

And, within the work live the journey, the results, the roller coaster ride, the recognition, feast or famine, the doubts, success and most importantly (for me), the relationships developed and the memories therein.

And yet, none of this will be experienced without doing the work. Whether you are in a studio, on a film set with a small crew or on a stage with a thousand people watching you, it all comes from putting in the work. You will only get back from the work as much as you are willing to put in.

Whatever turns you on, this phrase bears repeating; The work is where it’s at, man!

Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor and acting coach. He teaches regular classes on Wednesday nights at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. For details email [email protected] Follow Guy on Instagram @guycamilleri.