The Brando Method Thing #3: Sal Mineo on Watching Brando at the Actors Studio
I had a month of shiny subway tokens. My good-boy gabardines were
wearing thin at the crotch. Buddy was tight chinos and the anger of a
boy with too many stepfathers. The girls in class loved the way his
muscles twitched and stretched like homeless snakes. They must've felt
There was sadness too in the way he moved and mumbled
the names of Caesar's assassins. If I were a cowboy, it would've felt
like the death of a favorite steer.
Teach me to feel, I said to my acting coach, Stella Adler.
That year Brooklyn was losing its elm trees and suicides were
kept out of the papers. I was in love with an opera singer named
George. We were both poor, down on the shoeshine, but in love. I
thought of us as two kites, slowly drifting apart, an
artificial cloud between us. In time, I would be attracted to
more dangerous men.
You're all in the anal stage, announced Stella to the class. Learn to
let go. Let it out! Let all the shit out!
So I closed my eyes and became Brooklyn, felt its fierce strength
though my veins, but inwardly I bled. I had lost all my old heroes.
Meanwhile Buddy raised a knife over his head. He was not Caesar but
tragedy itself. Rocking his head back, he too closed his eyes and said,
Death is everywhere. I can feel it. I will not run from it. He said,
When Brutus knocks at your door, let him in. He will stab you three times.
But it's not the fact of your death or
that you could have prevented him from entering your house. It's the
way you die that's the thing, groping for life, finally becoming the
person you always pretended to be. No longer the little boy blue for
your dead mothers.
He drew the knife across his pinky.
The class became silent.
We were mesmerized by the trickle and the drop.
Stella disappeared and came back. She threw an enormous white sheet
over us. And we reached and grappled and frolicked through the sheet.
With all our faces the same, we became each other's ghost. A strange
electricity passed through us—an alternating current of love and rage.
And Stella's lesson then became clear: We were that
We were the whiteness of it.
Kyle Hemmings has stuff in or coming from Blip, elimae, NANO fiction, SmokeLong Quarterly and others.
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