Friday, September 28, 2012

Kergan Edwards-Stout - "Songs for the New Depression"

I want to introduce another guest artist who I attended high school with.  I have not seen Kergan since we graduated.  I don't want to say how long ago it has been as it will date us both.  We connected via Face Book and I look forward to seeing him at our next high school reunion.  I learned he has a beautiful family and has  written an inspiring novel Songs for the NewDepression.  I asked if he would write something for my blog to inspire other artists.  

Question:  What inspired you to become a professional writer?  When did you know and at what moment did you decide to take the plunge.

I’ve always been creative, even as a little kid. In 2nd grade, I was the one spraying pine-scented Glade into the audience, trying to establish the proper "forest" mood for my production of Snow White. Perhaps, to some, it would’ve been wiser to have spent less time on such "non-essentials" and more time rehearsing the actors. But in my view, it was far more important that our dwarves actually look the part, with dwarf-like shoes (i.e., slippers), than learn their dialogue. Who cares if little Billy knows his lines, if everyone looks on the stage and still sees little Billy?

For great art, you need the magic, the essence -- the scent -- more than anything else.

And while that passion for the arts never wavered, as I aged, I began to view my creative endeavors more as hobbies than vocations.  I was content directing other people’s scripts, reciting other people’s lines, and never quite believing that I had it in me to create a work from scratch.  Until my partner, Shane Sawick, died.  Suddenly, I was overflowing with thoughts and emotions which were entirely unique to me, and I began to put those thoughts onto paper.  The discovery that I had a unique voice was somewhat startling, as was the experience of allowing myself to feel each emotion as it occurred, but I continued to write, and ended up publishing my debut novel, Songs for the NewDepression, late last year. 

Inspired by my partner, the book follows a man facing death, attempting to make amends, and the biting humor within is a loving tribute to Shane.  Happily, the novel has been met with much acclaim and awards, including the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award in the LGBTQ category, and each positive review or note I receive from a reader tells me that I needed to take this step, and that my story resonates with others.  By finding that storyteller within, I discovered I had the strength and determination to take the plunge into writing as a profession, and it has been a rewarding ride.

I got an email one day from a reader who had loved my novel, but said, as much as he had a story of his own he wanted to tell, he felt that he’d never write it himself.  “Besides,” he said, “all the great stories have already been told.”  But I don’t believe that.  A wonderful epiphany occurs in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, when a disillusioned artist has the following exchange with his muse:

Dot: Are you working on something new?
George: No.
Dot: That is not like you, George.
George: I’ve nothing to say.
Dot: You have many things.
George: Well, nothing that’s not been said.
Dot: Said by you, though, George.

We all have stories to tell, and is our unique differences which bring new light and understanding to stories told before.  Find the “scent” within you, whatever makes you special, and share it with others. Only by sharing our stories and living authentically can we ever hope to change the world.

The debut novel of Kergan Edwards-Stout, Songs for the New Depression, was loosely inspired by his partner, Shane Sawick.  It recently won the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award in the LGBTQ category and was shortlisted in the same category for the Independent Literary Awards.   He writes regularly for Huffington Post, Bilerico Project, and LGBTQ Nation, as well as on his blog, KerganEdwards-Stout.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Actor Nathan Rahn

My guest actor/artist is Nathan Rahn.  I met him and fellow actors at the Hitachi commercial preview produced and directed by my friend James Marlowe.  The commercial was wonderful much like a short film with lots of cool special effects and comedy.  You go James!  The entire team did an incredible job and it was nice to meet the actors and staff who participated in the creation of this production!  I plan to post additional interviews from the rest of the cast and crew in the near future.
Thank you Nathan for being the first to participate!
Question:  What inspired you to become a professional actor? When did you know and at what moment did you decide to take the plunge. 

I've always been an actor, but it wasn't until I got out of the Navy and started college that it became apparent to me. It was during my first acting class in 2000 that I realized how much I enjoyed bringing emotion to others, performing in order to inspire. However, it wasn't until 2008 that I really took acting seriously.

After graduating with a Masters in Informatics, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was missing in my life.  I was not entirely fulfilled and yet I had a good job and great life in the Bay Area. Then it dawned on me the acting class I took years ago was one of my favorite experiences.  I had moved quickly towards a career path in psychology and computers and in this ambitious climb I had left behind that expressive part of me. I soon looked for acting classes in the Bay Area and finally found Billie Shepard. I telephoned and shared my story about the acting class I had taken years before.  She listened and told me I had always been an actor and invited me to an improvisation workshop with Alan Arkin. It was through Alan’s and also Billie’s other workshops that I made various connections that led me to the Bay Area Acting Studio and Sandy Meisner the founder of the Meisner Method who trained my acting coach Christy English. 

From there it was a whirlwind of activity.  I began auditioning for various parts, built my acting resume, and really started to understand myself and what I wanted to do with my new career. Before I knew it, I was in projects that got into film festivals and I was able to get an IMDb profile.  I was also able to do a project for which I became eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild. 

I am not content to wait and be "discovered" so I began working with other Bay Area actors and filmmakers to create films of our own and this permitted me to practice my craft as much as possible.

To learn more about Nathan Rahn visit his website and follow him on Twitter

Story submitted by Nathan Rahn

Posted by Kathy McCartney