Hey, over the past two weeks, I've had to choose a person that I was interested in and write a paper on them. We were to interview and observe the person, then pick "an angle" on how to portray them. I picked a man named Duncan Murdoch who is a small scale actor. I was wondering if you could read and critique it as much as you can... then try and summarize the paper. Perhaps tell me who you think Duncan is.
Much appreciated! And thanks :).Just Somewhere In Between
"So, tell us, Duncan," Mr. Walczak, an English and Drama teacher at Brooks School, asked the thin figure sitting attentively on the stage, "what do you want to do when you grow up?" It was a simple dark room - black brick walls held out the sunlight, gray carpeting stretched out underfoot, and in the center was a prop-less stage. It was a typical high school theater where opportunities formed and bloomed. Students scattered around. A spotlight shone on the center forward of the bare stage, drawing attention to a calm male in a safe brown-and-beige outfit. He sat patiently on a simple, characterless chair.
Duncan Murdoch, a 27-year-old actor, leaned forward, half insulted and half amused. He looked down at his feet in deep thought and let out a gasp of air. This comedy actor had decided to visit his old boarding school with intentions of teaching an improvisation workshop. He had not expected to be interrogated by a group of sophomores on a Saturday morning in the dark quarters of the Black Box. The openness of the question sent him into a startled state.
He cleared his throat. "Um... what do I want to be when I grow up?... I - and by the way, I've already grown up," he hurriedly added before loosely sketching out his plans. He wanted to become a husband, a father, a more established actor, and perhaps an influential artist at the age of fifty. "Have a couple kids, couple homes," he limply told us. The plan was no Empire State Building blueprint and more of a rough sketch with a couple of lines misplaced here and there.
It was not even half a day later, in a private interview, where Duncan revealed to me that he is actually far from grown up.
"I don't think I will ever grow up," he wondered out loud. It was he who chose to sit outside and was clearly enjoying the light spring wind. Outside in the sun, Duncan seemed more relaxed and in his element. He grinned to the melodic idea of never growing up.
I asked him if he felt that improvisation echoed something within him. "It reflects my youth," he said. "It's about not caring about what other people think and just being yourself."
Before moving to live on his own, Duncan grew up a pleasant boy from Shelburne, Vermont. He completed his high school education at Brooks School, the place "where it all began." At Brooks, he found people respected his interest in acting. "Everybody was so nice," he reminisced. He continued his education in Bates College in Maine, where students and teachers fueled his enthusiasm. Comedy, especially, grasped his attention. "I like being responsible for someone's laughter, because when you have a real laughter, it's like a real moment. It's pure happiness."
After graduating in 2001, the lively Duncan headed towards the bustling city of New York. The Big Apple was full of energy, and he sought new thrills in the unfamiliar subways, roads, and streets. He tried to maintain his joy for drama but the city bore new obstacles. "New York made me change. You can't trust everyone." There was strain in his voice. He hunched over. "People blocked my energy, so I said, you know... screw them! I won't look at anyone else because I don't want to put myself out there and be shut down." The cold New York experience had abruptly stripped away Duncan's fruitful youth, allowing him little time to ease into adulthood. He spent following years shielding himself from the acrid indifference of the New Yorkers he now neighbored.
After settling down in the city, he realized something. "I decided... I needed to change." Blue eyes glinting, he sat up with confidence. Duncan had always thought that it was important to be true to his heart, but New York had dampened his self-confidence. With years of recoiling, he had enough - he was ready to rekindle the person he found through his Brooks experience. "I don't care if people think I'm an idiot or if I'm cool. I'm going to be who I am. It's my responsibility."
But under duress, the New York Duncan seems to resurface defensively. "When I'm trying to be professional, I tend to act older." He - almost shamefully - admits that at times during his revisit at Brooks, he had to postulate himself towards faculty. "I feel the need to assert myself because I'm just not... that anymore," referring to his adventurous student years.
At this time, I had become torn between two images of Duncan - there was the professional Duncan that was distant while acting and teaching improvisation classes, and there was the easygoing Duncan who clapped his hands while laughing and fit-in with the students. Following his motto of staying true to oneself seemed quite contradictory at this point, but if thought out, being two people could be who Duncan Murdoch was. Determination to keep his youth and naïveté, but still desiring to be presented as mature could simply be who he was at this point in life. But what could have been the cause for this paradox?
I asked him if he wanted to get married and settle down. Uneasy, he stroked his blonde anime hair. "I think my girlfriend would appreciate it... and my mom," he tactfully confessed. He went on to tell me about seeing his old teachers and their children who had grown up a lot since the last time he saw them. "It's a slow realization that this could be my next phase."
Could he be feeling the pressure of fitting into the social framework that we have mindlessly developed for ourselves? Or was it something else?
Perhaps another reason was the loss of time to be young. At a ripe age of 21, Duncan was forced through the extremities of New York standards to act well beyond his years. He was not given the luxury to experiment with and enjoy the awkward stages of transitioning from adolescence to maturity. The New York molestation of spirited, high-school-and-college Duncan shocked his character and deprived him of time to be youthful. And now, having experienced the polished adult life, he was only trying to catch-up the buoyant years that the city so mercilessly evaporated.
The reasons for Duncan's conflicting personalities are peculiar and unclear. Still carefree, Duncan is stretched between being the man that was forced into his system and the boy that is pleading to stick around. At the age of 27, there is still time to develop and mold, choose and decide. But one thing to keep in mind: "Our memories form our identities and our identities are our memories". Whether the mature New York man or the laid-back Brooksian boy is ultimately established in the body of Duncan Murdoch, it will always be a mixture of our recollections and characteristics that determine with whom and where we shall end up, where and what we shall do, and what and who we shall be.