Class DismissedApril 8, 2011
Sometimes, when you’ve removed yourself from everything that has come before, it is almost like you have died. The people, places and events of your past become frozen in that moment when you airlifted yourself out of everything you knew, and everytime you come home to visit, you are shocked to find that things have changed.
In many ways, the people and circumstances of my life in the early nineties, the years before I came to Korea, have become a personal mythology. Today, I lost a god.
My expat friends here in Korea will all understand how strange the experience of news of a death at home can be. You get the phone call, or email. The landscape turns upside down for a moment. But, there is no one to go visit, no funeral to attend. Friends and family here in Korea – the ones that you will turn to for hugs and cups of tea – have never met the person that you have lost. So, you take your moment, you tuck it away in your pocket, and it never becomes real.
For me, this morning – it was a post on Facebook. My beloved Acting teacher, Arif Hasnain, has passed away.
I could tell you how he terrorized us the first time he ever conducted a cast meeting, how he got blitz-faced drunk and went after us one by one, tearing down our walls.
I could tell you that he could scream as well as he could purr, and that the phrase “hopping mad” was coined especially for him.
that he turned our small Theatre department inside out, and made us question everything we had learned.
that he should have been fired, many times over.
that he needed to work himself up to a razor-sharp edge, often with alcohol, in order to cut through all the bullshit we believed about ourselves.
But, I won’t.
I will tell you that he taught me all about the truth.
that a smile of approval from him was worth the world.
that he was one of the softest, sweetest men I have ever known.
I will tell you that the closest I ever came to being a really good actor were the moments I spent in his class- that these moments are an important part of who I believe I am, moments where I disappeared completely and yet was fully myself.
Today, I wish I could be with my old classmates. We were a small class – just 4 guys and 5 girls. We were an incestuous, complex little group, working our issues out all over each other. We were everything- sisters, brothers, lovers, friends, compatriots, teachers and students. We are all, also, artists. For that, I know we owe a big debt to one another.
We owe Arif even more.
He is forever in my pocket.