Week 19 | Artist 19: Created to Create 2016 | Bart Hansard, Actor/Writer/Adjunct Acting Teacher
I hold a BA double major in English and Theatre from Coker College, and an MFA in Acting from Wayne State University/Hilberry Repertory Theatre. I have made my living as a freelance actor in numerous stage productions, as well as appearances in movies and television. Also, commercials, voiceovers, industrials, etc., as well as live events, conventions and other types of performances.
I have been fortunate enough to do this for the last 25 years, or thereabouts.
I am currently teaching acting at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia in the beautiful North Georgia mountains. And, still keeping my hand in the flurry of productions happening in my home state. Most recently, in The Red Road (4 episodes), Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, and I will return for my 13 season to the Alliance Theatre's seasonal production of The Christmas Carol.
As for a website, I am remiss. Anne has set up a Facebook fan page but I need to step up my game, internet wise. However, some of my appearances are on IMDB!
Where were you born?
I was born in Piedmont Hospital on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia.
Where do you live and work?
I live in Hiawassee, Georgia and work wherever they will hire me.
What fuels your desire to create?
I am attention seeking, and I have always enjoyed connecting with people, but like a bit of a buffer.
The stage is a great way to work people into all sorts of situations, whether comedic or tragic, and walk away from the aftermath. Film and TV even better! But, one odd side effect of being on television is that people approach you in the oddest places, and feel that you have been in their homes and that they know you. Plus, it beats moving cinderblock. Which I have done in the past as a side job!
The best thing about being an artist is...
The best thing about being an artist is the next thing! Being able to spread your knowledge, love and imagination and wrap it in your experiences and share it with an unsuspecting and often needful audience.
The biggest obstacle in working with self is...
The biggest obstacle in working with the self is the gnawing anxiety and self-doubt. The ghost in the machine that tries to tear you down and negate all that you are attempting.
What advice would you give self at the very beginning of your training and professional career?
My biggest advice is get over those doubts, have confidence in yourself and your talent, know your words, never seem desperate for the work. Not cockiness, but a bit of the "devil-may-care" attitude.
Make them want you more than you want them.
Are there any rituals you created to help you "face avoidance" that plagues any artist occasionally? Would you describe what works for you?
Yes. I have to hand write my lines until I can write them without looking at the script. I also try to connect with everyone before the show, a little hello, whether they are onstage or off. It "takes a village" to produce a performance. (This can more difficult, if not impossible, on movie/televison sets, but always be in a good humor!) Many years ago, I use to have a Coke (vocal warm-up! :D ) and a trip to the bathroom (physical warm-up!) Now I cannot drink Coca Cola and I cannot trust my bowels...sorry to seem crass!
Talk about a piece of work that you experienced recently that moved you and how it found its place in your work.
I (because my wife is a conjurer!) was fortunate enough to see a matinee of Hamilton with most of the top tier players, including Lin Manuel Miranda. I had not listened to the recording beforehand, nor really seen much about it. I had tried to avoid the hype, and was actually a bit skeptical about how "transformative" and "the new face of the American Musical" it was. Boy, WAS I WRONG. By the end, I was weeping. Also, on this same trip, got to see Kenny Lonergan's unpublished play, "Hold On To Me, Darling", at the Atlantic. Had a friend in the cast and I couldn't stop laughing at this dark comedy.
Both shows were diametrically opposed as to how they were presented for consumption....42nd Street-tourist-Broadway-bound and further off Broadway, straightforward and simple. A woman behind me in the Atlantic actually said, "This is the REAL New York theatre scene!"
These works reinvigorated my desire to be my best, regardless of my feelings about size of audience, response of audience, cellphones beeping, candy wrappers, etc. Actually spoke about these shows and my reactions to them with my recent Theatre Appreciation class and was able to utilize some of their messages about how theatre can take on issues sideways and still be relevant as a voice for change. Transformational and informational.
What is another art form do you connect to? How does this craft/discipline help you in your work?
Since I consider Theatre, Literature, Film and Television and Music interrelated...
Visual Arts! Installations, sculpture, mixed media, computer graphics, etc. I find inspiration in and actual emotive ideas within the work. For August Osage County I played a smaller role. (Sheriff Deon)
I was only onstage for two short scenes in an epic three hour show. I made a mural on my dressing room wall with pictures cut from magazines, that reflected my feelings and connections with the other characters, even if I didn't "speak" with them onstage. Weird and funky, and I don't do it for every show, but that filled a niche of having been an "outsider" in the show and in the cast (even though I knew and had worked with everyone over many years!)
During Christmas Carol, I transform my dressing room (Have a private one for this!) into "Christmas Central" I set up a small tree, I have retro "Blowmolds" of Santa's (lighted plastic figures), sometime music boxes, etc. The kids in the show will help decorate the tree, and I will haunt thrift shops for all sorts of funky decorations, usually old and reminiscent of my childhood. If anyone comes to visit, after the show, I will let them or their kids take a item, a keepsake, and when we close the cast kids usually have favorite ornaments, etc, that the "liberate".
I feel like these temporary "installations" connect me in visceral ways, sometimes more ephemerally or subliminally than I can consciously realize.
Describe your ritual or productive day at work.
My ritual/productive routine consists of being as honest as I can without seeming cruel. I foster an atmosphere of honesty in my classes, and want them to understand that they are part of a community, whether their schoolmates, castmates, or group of actors and technicians they are competing with for work. I was not always as honest with myself and others when I was younger, and I either hurt people's feelings, or got myself into situations that were not ideal. Now, I always try to "keep it real", and also let my students know I am not the end all and be all, and if I had a "Golden Ticket" to stardom I would either have used it myself, or charge an arm-and-a-leg to learn my secrets! They have to find the techniques and discipline that works for them and gets them cast, and no outsider can change that. I can help them discover exercises, techniques and a "bag or tricks", but if they aren't connecting honestly with themselves and the material and their peers/castmates, then they won't connect with an audience.
Describe effective techniques you use to increase your focus/productivity when working on a project.
I am constantly trying to refine my focus. "Better tomorrow than I am today!" I tend to procrastinate or get distracted, and because I sometimes find inspiration in the mundane and offbeat, I can go off on tangents. I am attempting to get into meditation, but find myself and mind "too restless". However, I can "feel" if I am on the right track, and have a sense that what was being "sought" has found a "home".
How do you reward self for a job well done?
Usually by playing the most violent video game I can find. Or ice cream. But my endocrinologist doesn’t like that too much.
In 2016, SUPER SPACE is serving as a vehicle to facilitate Created to Create Project.
CREATED TO CREATE
INTRODUCING ONE ARTIST PER WEEK, FOR 52 WEEKS IN 2016.
Beginning, January, 1st, 2016
ACTORS, ARTISTS, THEATRE MAKERS, FILM MAKERS, DESIGNERS, TEACHING ARTISTS, STUDENTS all chosen because they spend a part each day creating. Artists will be chosen in no particular order.
Introduce artists from different parts of the world. People who use different mediums and whose practice is at a different skill level. A thing they all have in common is unique sense of style and self-expression.