by Seth Reichgott
Because of Dell’Arte…
…I had to take a chance.
A lot of chances. Because the truth is that I almost didn’t make it through my time at Dell’Arte. A month or so into my PTP year I was called into a meeting with then school director Peter Buckley and told that if I didn’t start working harder, if I didn’t start risking more, if I didn’t go there, I’d have to go home. It was pretty bracing and hard to hear. I was older than a lot of the rest of my class, I had been a professional actor for almost 10 years, and I thought I was all that. In truth, I wasn’t much at all. And I was completely unprepared for what Dell’Arte was asking me to do.
This wasn’t really a new thing for me. I’d pretty well coasted all through high school and college on good luck, an excellent memory, and a facility for putting things together quickly. I was smart, and I got good grades—not great, but good—and I figured that was enough. It was the easy way to go, and it didn’t require a lot of real, hard work. During the early years of my professional life I also shied away from a lot of challenges. If something took hard work, it meant risk, it meant the possibility of failure, the chance that I wouldn’t look good, that I’d fall on my face and everyone would point and laugh. But that’s one of the things that a clown has to do, and so if I was going to succeed—at Dell’Arte and in life—I had to do it too. I had to go there.
So I pulled myself together, took a deep breath, and did one of the hardest things I’d ever done. I took a chance. And in the end, I made it through my year, and created some good work along the way. I failed a lot too, but I learned that it’s okay to fail, that sometimes it’s even desirable. It was a huge step forward. My year at Dell’Arte peeled me like an onion, and forced me to look at who I was and who I wanted to be. It was far more than just a year at physical theatre school; it was a life-altering event. I came out the other side a different person.
Dell’Arte takes you and shapes you, but you have to be willing to go on the journey. And when it’s over the thing you know more than anything else is how better to be you, or at least how to start. I remember Daniel Stein once saying that to truly succeed you need to step off the edge and hope that the net appears. And sometimes it doesn’t. But the paradox is that the more willing you are to take that step, the more accepting you are of the fact that there might not be a net, the more you can embrace that you might land hard and look silly, the more likely it is that none of that will happen, and that you will, in fact, soar.
Seth Reichgott is a Philadelphia-based actor, director, and writer. He has worked with the Wilma Theater, Interact, the Lantern Theatre, Cape May Stage, the Arden Theatre, Mum Puppet Theatre, the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, and the National Theatre of the Performing Arts, among many others. Seth has twice been a co-recipient of the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Ensemble, and was nominated for a Helen Hayes award for Outstanding Actor in a Play for his performance as Faustus in Wittenberg at Rep Stage. Each year Seth tours his solo Greek mythology show, Chariot of the Sun, to elementary and middle schools across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. He also works as the Artist Services Manager for Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern PA, helping to bring the arts into hundreds of schools every year. Seth is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre.
For more, visit www.sethreichgott.com.