Letter from New York.

When my dear sister Sigrid visited me, she told me towards the end that she felt like writing home and telling everyone about my time here in New York. So I thought to myself… That after five months and still not written anything, I understand if you all at home have mostly given up…
It is a city that never sleeps. A city where anything is possible in any time of the day. A city where homeless people sit with their Iphones and beg for money on Union Square. Where a man with only one leg in a wheelchair makes his living by begging for coins in the subway car, while there is an advert beside him saying “Happiness is when you can order food on your Iphone without saying a word”. And in the middle of this misery I can take a look around me and can decisively say that I have the right to spend my days in reliving my childhood at an acting school that costs 14000 dollars a year. It is a city that is unjust, dangerous and just wonderful.
As I arrived to New York I had decided to not get in touch with any of the people I already knew here. I had to do this independently and I didn’t want to start any relationship by taking advantage of them. Even though I ended up in a trashy hostel in China Town my first night in New York, the kind of place where you wake up hearing the breath of the person in the room beside you as clear as if he would have cuddled up with you, and when you wake up in the morning seeing dark thick hair on your pillow you actually start to doubt whether the nightmare was true or not. Though this, as soon as I stepped out of the airport in Newark I felt safer than I have ever been before when I have been on the loose all on my own, and that feeling has still not changed.
I am in New York to study acting, in a city where girls who have seen that Sandra Bullock went to Neighborhood Playhouse in an interview on TV, which is a complete lie however (she’s one of the worst actresses I know – Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton studied here), think they can become movie stars even though they do not have any experience on stage or the talent – but the money.
The three weeks before my course started I explored all the art, dance and theatre spaces I was interested in being a part of in New York. I took classes, got offered performance opportunities, met industry people who got an eye for me (however the men might just have wanted to get me in bed as that is how single men from Broadway are in New York I’ve realized, which makes me want to puke…). I got my purse stolen and I moved into a temporary apartment in Brooklyn with the other Swede in my school, Matti from Norrland. Very soon I noticed it was an apartment house where drug dealers hanged out 24/7 in the hall, where I woke up in the middle of the night hearing someone being stabbed and where there were bullet holes in the gate door when you got home – Welcome to New York!
As the term at the Playhouse started I suddenly became busy with school and could not precede the connections and training at the places outside school as I wished, which is very logical. It is good to be eager but I cannot own the world in one sweep. The frustration of not being completely satisfied is a constructive frustration that brings me forward. The only real moment is now.
At an experimental dance festival in Brooklyn I met Douglas, a Brazilian musician with a big heart and I had my first intense romantic affair in New York. Tuva, as normally, ended it when it became too demanding and committing; I am here to act, not to deal with an eager passionate man in his middle-age crisis.
Occupy Wall Street was in its climax and I as an old strongly political teenage leftist could feel the smell of hope and revolution in the air as I walked nearby Wall Street. In my free time I started to hang out with a group of composers, mathematics, activists and theatre makers who literally presented an episode from Big Bang Theory with an artsy-fartsy layer added as you sat in their living room. I dumpster-dive most of my food, which New York is an excellent city for as they put all the garbage just outside the store, and soon I was a part of the Freegan movement in New York.
When I had time left over I took dance/movement classes with Karl Anderson in “The enourmous eye and other sculpting tools”, a stage combat workshop with The Society of American Fight Directors, a workshop in “Action Theatre” with Ruth Zaporah which was amazing and this 80 year old dancing genius invited me to her annual workshop in Santa Fe this summer (Yay!), I auditioned and worked on different casting events with “Backstage”.
At the same time the process in school became more and more intense. All our emotional barriers has to be broken down, it is all about seeing the ones near us and the world right through; to be completely emotionally available. We are all a family now. I have faced my worst nightmares and my highest dreams this year in the acting exercises. I am crying as a fountain one moment and laughing hysterically another in the improvisation. Even though some naive unprofessional spoiled kids in the class who made me frustrated in the beginning, I realize I have to be very thankful for being here. For being taught by so talented people, for having Bill Bowers in mime who studied with Marcel Marceu and originated the role as Zazu in the Lion King at Broadway, for having Christine Duncan in contemporary dance who was Martha Graham’s soloist for more than 20 years and later the companies Artistic Director, for having Rick Sordelet in stage combat who does all the fights at Broadway, and for studying singing, speech and voice with teachers who also teaches at NYU, Yale and Harvard. For having teachers who believe in me. I realize that I should not complain. The technique has made me realize that performing is my passion but I cannot rely on it to always help me breathe. They tell us that we have to be complete by life in itself in order to be a good and inspiring artist. It is hard. I have sacrificed a lot of my love for you all for the art and justified it.
Three weeks ago I moved to Queens with two wonderful ladies who studies at the Playhouse. I have discovered my favorite hangout in Lower East, called “Yippie”. Apparently Jimi Hendrix rehearsed in the basement before he got famous, and the man who called up Frank Zappa when he had his down period and said “Hey, Frank, you’ve got talent” showed up for Fridays jam session. It is a place where Manhattans old hippies, yunkies and even homeless people, mixed with today’s third generations underground artists are connecting. New friends – new adventures.
Still, the acting does take up more than 85% of my time awake.
New York has a magical atmosphere to it. Everything outside New York has been too far to even think of. Maybe that is why people get stuck here and after a certain time finds it impossible to return? A positive distance from your past. Or maybe just a ridiculous escape? We are too far away from the people who’s opinion actually affects the way we evaluate ourselves. They are too far away to know what we are up to, to know whether we are doing right or wrong in our life? And our life is suddenly just up to us and what we are doing in this pure moment…
That is acting. And that is life. My life.
Love,
Tuva

Thank you

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