I once heard life described as a series of circuits. I don’t recall the exact wording and won’t pretend to be an expert on circuits, so work with me here, I’m aiming for a general understanding. We are all individual lights on a circuit, shining brightly in the darkness, forming one giant light from a distance. When we work together in this life, to grow and love through communication and shared experience, our connections stay strong and our lights shine at their brightest. It’s as though each of us adds something to the power that comes in our direction and sends it off to the next person to benefit from. When we close ourselves off to others, we deny others the energy they need to shine their brightest and limit the energy we, ourselves, receive, thereby, dimming both our individual and collective lights. Yes?
As much as I enjoy my time alone to reflect and grow, I enjoy learning and sharing with others. Especially those I feel a sense of instant recognition with. Living in Philadelphia, I’ve had the privilege to meet many an artist, but occasionally, there’s a person you know of, share friends with, and see out in the world, but somehow have yet to manage to get to know. For me, this is Peter Andrew Danzig. Yes, I understand he is handsome and talented, but I wanted to know more, so I
spent hours gazing a his shirtless pictures decided to sit down and speak with him… Inside The Green Room.
How did you first realize your interest in performance?
PAD: It’s funny, I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t an essence of performance in my life. It’s always existed for me; play is important to me and fantastical worlds were so much a part of my childhood, maybe I just never grew up. I think I just discovered the term ‘actor’ meant I could play/perform and be paid to do what I love. Jest aside, music, voice and singing were actually my introduction to performance, and in high school In learned the power of how music and theater could move people, around 16 I knew it would be the leading driver for the rest of my life. I had a moment during a state choir competition when the choir finished the song and whole audience was stark quiet, and it was one of those magic moments when you know you had them. you connected and you both cathartically shared something beautiful; that was it. I never looked back after that, I still relish in those moments we are one with an audience.
When you initially decided to study Theatre on a collegiate level, how did you see your future in your mind’s eye?
PAD: It’s funny you should ask that question; I am one who has always lived fairly in the present. I always had a hard time seeing myself in any future capacity. I was simply always happy with the ability to do what I loved and to keep learning. Constant education is really important to me. But in all seriousness, if you had told me at 18 or 20 what I’d be doing with my life now, I’d be flabbergasted. How’d I get here? Who knows, passion? I’m incredibly driven to challenge myself constantly, so I think I always knew I’d be moving towards something, but the strategic planning part of that was always a rather large void for me. I tend to think that the Universe puts us exactly where we are meant to be with just enough to handle, and I think that is where I’m at. I always did have a love for the body on stage and the ways in which people and characters became one in the same and lived the same body. The dramaturgy of the body always fascinated me, and I was always drawn to it, so I think subconsciously I knew there would be some way I’d engage with that. Much of my future was influenced by what I learned in undergrad from Donna Snow, Dan Kern and David Ingram. They really inspired me and I felt like I understood from them by the time I left that a life in the theatre, and my future is what you make of it. It’s no one’s job to take care of us and we are owed nothing, so hard work and patience are some of the things they taught me are most important.
By the time you started graduate school, had that vision changed? If so, how?
PAD: Yes, when I went to graduate school I was accepted as an Acting Scholar at Villanova, and my original intent was to solely focus becoming a more grounded actor, but the experience left me open to so much more. It was there that I really started to think about and link kinesiology and acting and found that there are methods, so many, so creating characters on stage. I was also able to do some movement coaching and directing in grad school that really opened me up to what I feel is my life purpose, to help actors condition, create and find strength in their own bodies on stage; to allow their natural gifts and quirks, physically, to blend with the text to create something, someone. The vision became more of a humbling realization. I adore being an actor, there is nothing like it, but I also come alive when I watch the actors I’ve worked with or choreographed moving on stage. I get so nervous! It’s a sign to me that I’m meant to do this and I can’t begin to tell you the rush I get from moving bodies in space and creating pictures; it’s my favorite part of my job.
As a theatrical trainer, what kind of work most excites you? (movement, fight choreography, tumbling)
PAD: I’d say movement coaching, and the blend of exercise science and creating worlds on stage with large casts. I like the challenge of moving part, the machine that is the production. I love, love, love helping actors work from obscure body centers and seeing how that informs their choices. There is nothing like it when an actor discovers their instrument in a whole new light. I also love the blending of genres and types of work, for example, in It Girl with Simpatico, we blended the world of dance and fight choreography for the Apache dance and it was invigorating for me every time we played with the notions of what was dance and what was fight combat, because in the end, the body is delivering movement, always, and sometimes there is no reason to strictly classify movement in rigid boxes. It’s beautiful when it’s free from that, when we can find movement as a means of creating lines and shapes, and through intensity and motion we can either dance or fight, or so both simultaneously.
What are some of your greatest challenges?
PAD: I’d say finding my little place in the world; sometimes I’m my hardest critic and don’t know when to let myself off the hook. I think it’s important to know when to rest and allow yourself to just be in life, but I have a hard time doing that. I feel like the challenge for me is to just allow myself to let go, surrender control. Also, the balance of making our art and living our own life so that we can create life on stage. A great mentor of mine once told me that the only way to survive a life in the theatre is to know when to step away for a time and live your own. I think about that often.
Yes, surrender control… so difficult to do sometimes.
How was the process of starting your own company? Any warnings or advice you would give to someone thinking of doing the same thing?
PAD: I think you need to love what you do off-stage as much as loving what you do on-stage. I think that balance and happiness is important and comes across in the work. As for starting a company, it’s a beast, and I’m still learning each and every day but one bit of advice I would share is to know when to allow yourself to ask for help, to not always have the answers and be okay with taking risks. In the end, you’re taking a risk by trying to create something, so you may as well make it worth while and allow yourself to be human enough to know when you need to rely on the education and experiences of your peers to help you shape your vision.
Are there any major obstacles you had to overcome in your career as a theatre artist?
PAD: Yes, and still working on it. Not measuring your success against the success of others. It took me a long time to understand that lesson, and maybe it comes with age and experience, but I measure my success now by small milestones. I measure it against myself and in the end. I discovered how much to appreciate the small victories. You live one life right, so it’s all those small moments that lead us to larger revelations and more experiences. One obstacle I still fight is judging my own work; I often have a hard time of knowing when to trust my intuition.
I don’t know why we compare our success with that of others. All of us. Maybe because we’ve grown up in a competition based society with winners and losers, only honoring “the best”. I hope we can all overcome that one.
How do you fight procrastination and fear? What keeps you motivated?
PAD: Every day I read a book of inspirational quotes; just one page and then I try to find a moment in my day to make that quote happen to further along my life in a positive way. It may sound quirky but it works for me. I don’t procrastinate, I’m a really direct person, I hate the feeling of leaving things undone. Call me a work-a-holic.
What would you most like to accomplish in your career?
PAD: My dream is to get my PHD in kinesiology and prove a new method for character creation and movement as my thesis based on the dramaturgy of the actor’s actual body. So much of the dreams I have for myself are influenced by people like Anne Bogart and Martha Graham. I want to accomplish creativity impacting and contributing to the theatre a pathway for actors and a method. I’ve already begun researching it and decided it would be a life practice. After all, Grahman once said “The body says what words cannot.” I want to find a new way for the body to speak!
What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome in your life?
PAD: Such large questions! Wow, this one is hard. Loving myself, exactly as I am. I think that is one for many of us.
I agree, for so many years, I loved the idea of what i hoped to be as opposed to the growing person I was.
What is love?
PAD: I think that love is compassion and understanding. Whether it be familial or romantic, there is a sense of compassion, the ability to have that is what makes us human. For me, love is being able to put other’s needs before your own. Right now I’m discovering that love is something we know nothing about, because we can never know it till it hits us, in all it’s forms.
What do you most enjoy about this thing called life?
PAD: The unpredictability. After all, that is what stasis actually is. Stability is the rare occurrence in life, it’s the instability of life, the cracks and turns that I think are what makes it worth living.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
PAD: Funny, I still stand by what I said before, I can’t really find an answer to that. I’m just so happy and humbled by where I am now. In ten years though, I’d love to be able to come home and say “honey, I created movement today with my method and hey, it works”. That would be really something for me! Now to just make that happen.
We hope you achieve all that and more!
Keep up with Mr. Danzig at PeterAndrewDanzig.com
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