A Lesson in Humility

Went to bed early last night so I had more energy today which is good because we got started earlier than usual because tacked onto rehearsals this morning was a photo shoot for the ad art –posters, etc –for the play. This was important—this poster will be the “face” of the play. It’s got to be good and I’ve been worried. We’ve only been rehearsing 4 days! I didn’t want to look like me. I had to be Katherine, my character, but how? We don’t yet have the costumes. I don’t have the wigs.

Martial Corneville saved the day as far as I am concerned. Yesterday, besides making a plaster cast of my head for creating the final wig, he went out and found an already-made wig, cut it and styled it and gave it to another wig stylist, Michael, who worked wonders this morning, blending my hair with this new (and temporary) wig and in an hour I was Katherine. That’s the good news. The challenging (for me) news is that the photographs had to be stark—no filter to soften, no nothing except that, finally, after some reworking of the lighting with input from me, we got the right look.

But here’s the thing: Looking at these more realistic, unadorned photos of myself, I had to take a deep breath, and with humor and acceptance, allow myself to acknowledge, I mean really allow the truth in– I am old. I am matronly. I asked one of my co-stars, “How come bags under Vanessa Redgrave’s eyes look noble and under mine they look like crap?” “Because she’s British,” he replied. I know what he means but I think it’s more because of her cheekbones. I wrote this in my memoirs when talking about Katherine Hepburn:

I realized that if the architecture of a face is upward reaching (those cheekbones!) and properly proportioned as hers was, it mattered not if the skin that was draped over the scaffolding was wrinkled and blotched…the essential beauty held. Aging takes more of a toll with less structured faces.

Oh well. This is what I have been given. Hopefully, other things, aspects of character and experience, will compensate for my lack of architecture. Got to beef up the humor, too. Maybe that’s the most important!

When we finished with the photo session, we reviewed the blocking of the 2 scenes we did yesterday and were able to begin integrating what we’ve learned. It felt better.

Then we moved into the next scene and Moises let me know that my approach to the scene (which I had been quite pleased with) wasn’t quite right. This profession requires humility—alongside the ego that wishes we looked better. I will, between now and tomorrow (Maybe while I’m sleeping!), try to internalize his notes. Without giving too much away, I was going for passion and enthusiasm. He was looking for introspection and humility.

That’s show biz.

See you next time!

David Woolard explaining the costumes

With Moises at the photo shoot

Choosing a photo for the ad art

In the rehearsal dressing room
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  1. Humility is such a firm, yet gentle, teacher. I always feel so blessed when she visits. 😉 P.S. You look gorgeous, even in the candid shots.

  2. i hope look like crap just like you when i turn 71

  3. I have Barbarella s DVD, You were amazing in all the aspects as always. Externe beauty and you were a very sweet, kind, gentle, loving superwoman in that film. Wonderful inside and outside, unfortunately it s so hard to meet someone with that inside wonder!!! But c est la vie, we go surviving…hihihihihihihi!!!!! I do love you darling! Always!!

  4. Jane,

    I saw the show on Sunday and you were terrific! I thought you struck just the right balance of pride and vulnerability. I really enjoyed the show. The subject matter just fascinated me.

    I would also like to respectfully say that for someone who is a champion of women’s rights, the premium you put on your looks isn’t necessary. You have tons of adoring fans who admire and respect you for who you are and what you stand for. You are enough.

    Am loving your blog so much. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I have just been widowed by an old nemesis you would recognize and am completely pole-axed. After two weeks, I am struggling with so much guilt, sorrow and fear of the future, one could never imagine.

    I happened on your site and just roared and marveled at your generosity and openness to share your life like this. The post about going to Starbuck’s without money then leaving the Blackberry behind at one point, just touched me as so “me” right now. Imagine, we all have these frailities! it helped me immensely to know that — as an old “Women’s Strike for Peace” gal— one of my heroes is struggling to face the rigors of aging with such candor and humor. I saw you recently on Stephen Colbert’s show and was so pleasantly surprised at your unbowed and sassy-ass presence, but I did not know you had this in you. God bless you, Ms. Fonda!

  6. I can only hope to look as good as you do when I’m 71. I don’t look that good now and I’m 55! 🙂

  7. i happened upon your blog by accident, and i’ve spent the last week every nite after dinner reading it. Amazing how you could feel old and matronly….when in fact i look at you with envy, and i’m 20 yrs younger.

    I’ve been a fan forever, of your work, activisim, social causes, and your workouts. And I still do them!!
    Almost 60 and still “flex…flex”.

    Am going to try and get to the City to see your play Easter week. Keep up your blog. Interesting. Fascinating. Intimate. I look forward to more.

  8. Surely you’re kidding! You were beautiful when you were young and you’re more beautiful now because you are so at ease with yourself and your wisdom shines through. I should be so lucky!

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