Riding as the Story (Guest Blogpost)

Becoming the Story - guest blogpost from actor Dirk Keysser.
dirk_keysser by Dirk Keysser
Human beings are storytelling creatures. Virtually every culture in recorded history seems to have produced heroic epics, poetry and legends of some sort. Even before that, one imagines, when early humans sat around the fire, grunts and gestures filled the air while individuals regaled the rest with tales of the hunt, of fighting off predators and of how the big one got away. I have a strong sense that storytelling is hardwired into our very being.

As an actor, I pay homage to that ancient part of myself everyday. I get to participate in a collaborative storytelling process, take on a character and actually BE part of the story. It is thrilling and humbling at the same time. Preparing for a role can be a lot of work, emotionally challenging and physically taxing, but I feel such joy when I open myself up and experience the world as a different person, however congenial or painful that world may be. There is no greater feeling on earth than hearing gales of laughter coming from an audience.

My current character, Leo is a wholesome married man whose life gets turned upside-down when a third party joins his household. In darkly hilarious detail, he recounts the "Summer of Blood," a tragic incident (as covered by GOOD MORNING, AMERICA, in the fictional universe of the play), when 50 cruise-ship passengers were dropped off for a swim into shark-infested waters "like human fish food." Leo is also addicted to the stories people post on a Lutheran message board, where members offer advice to each other on their lives' problems. When Leo shares stories like these with Molly, his smitten, stalker-ish coworker, she uses his romantic sensibility to work her way into his heart and home. The resolution of this situation contains some of the best and most heartfelt comedy I have ever had the privilege to work on. Not only do I get to experience an enormous range of emotions, from Leo's elation to his humiliation every night the show goes up, but I also get to share these feelings with an audience, inviting them to take the ride along with me.

Dirk Keysser is a professional actor currently appearing as the character Leo Tarver in DIFFERENT ANIMALS, a play by Abby Rosebrock at the Cherry Lane Theatre Studio in New York City.

more about Different Animals here.
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