Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.
1. I’d like to be the first person to go on record, to my knowledge, to call the coming decade the “Double Twenties”—which will also undoubtedly be known, in my circles, as the “DTs.”
2. Classic Holiday Me:
3. Subtext, for anyone who doesn’t know acting, means exactly what it is: anything that is underneath the text. Stated otherwise, it is all of the things that actors say without words. And the ability to communicate it is one of the things that separates great actors from good ones. Subtext is almost entirely communicated through an actor’s eyes, but it can also be heard in tone and seen in body language at times. Mostly though, it’s in the eyes and on the face. There is no better modern example to study subtext than the Netflix show The Crown. From the beginning, but most especially season 3 and most especially Olivia Colman as Elizabeth. No matter how composed and controlled and still her voice and body are, as playing the Queen dictates, you can see her eyes screaming her thoughts and feelings so very clearly. In this, and in every regard, really, she is magnificent. For a crystal clear example of subtext—and there is some brilliant fucking writing happening here, too—watch the scene towards the end of the first episode in the art gallery where she and her art expert, Anthony Blunt played by Samuel West, are having a public conversation in front of an audience about a portrait while simultaneously having an entirely private and personal conversation (the last one that they will ever have) underneath it. Blunt then has a similar conversation with Prince Phillip (played by Tobias Menzies), which is more direct but still swelling with subtext.
4. Fuck Yeah of the Week:
5. I have decided to make some Nappoholic toques. I’m making a hundred at a cost of 8 dollars each. I’m selling them for twenty dollars each and giving the 12 dollar profit to The Daily Food Bank. So that’s 1200 to a good cause. It seems from response that the hundred are already gone and if they are, I’ll make a hundred more. It’s win-win all around. I get the exposure, I guess, although this magazine doesn’t really pay me to do it—but as long as I am doing it, it would be great if people read it. You get to keep your head warm. And somebody, somewhere gets to eat. I’ll try to set something up to make them easy to get and figure out how to get them to anyone outside of Toronto who may want one. If anyone knows how to do that shit, feel free to send me a note.
6. Guest Post of the Week:
7. Here is a tip for people who hide things when they’re high. Pick ONE SPOT and hide everything there always. Every time. Whether it’s a gun or a pack of gum. Otherwise- you will never ever ever find those things again.
8. Heroes of the Week:
Pat Thornton brought back his 24-hour stand-up show after a five year hiatus and for the first time partnered up with Graham Clark, who did 24 hours in Vancouver simultaneously. Between them, they raised 23 thousand dollars for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Bra-fucking-vo, fellas!!
9. I saw that Avi Federgreen and Warren P Sonada have a film playing in the Whistler Film Festival. The film is called Things I Do For Money. I don’t know what it’s about but I am pretty sure I know what it’s NOT about: a Canadian actor who decides to stay and work in Canada for their entire career.
10. This was posted on December 6 by Candace Shaw. Lest we forget.
11. Humility Check of the Week:
12.Yesterday, I went into rehearsal for the first time in two years. It’s always nerve wracking to go into rehearsals. Especially when you have been doing well. What if this is the one I fucking suck in? The last show I did in Toronto was Butcher—a show where I was nominated for the Best Actor Dora. I’ll be working with Weyni Mengesha, one of the city’s finest directors and the new Soulpepper Artistic Director, who put her faith in me. I don’t want to let her down. The whole cast I am working with is amazing. It won’t be enough to bring my A game. I’m gonna have to develop a whole new A game for this one. I want to give this entire cast what they need to be better in their parts than they could possibly have been without me. I owe that to each of them for agreeing to be there.
But besides that, if I don’t turn in a razor-sharp performance, what will happen? Everyone will say I had always been overrated and was never THAT good to begin with. Because that’s what Canada does. Eats its own. And I’m a high-profile guy with a big mouth. How awesome would it be to see me shit the bed??!! Come on, admit it. You’d kind of love to see that. I mean, if I wasn’t me, I would. But I’m gonna do everything in my power to not let that happen.
That’s not why I brought this up, though. I brought it up because when I sat down to start doing the prep work on the script, I had a sort of startling epiphany. Which is dumb, because what I am about to say should have been so fucking obvious to me. But it wasn’t.
Professionally, the last few years could not have been any better. I had reached a point, two years ago, where I had done pretty much everything I wanted to do in theatre but needed to get my financial house in order. I’m shit with money. Always have been. I owed a lot of money to the government. Long story short, the film and TV industry blew up in town and there was work everywhere. I booked pretty much nonstop for a couple of years and paid my government debt and all of my personal debts. I still have nothing, basically, but I don’t owe anything either.
So I was making money. I was building my resume with all the right credits. Building professional relationships. Posting all the good Instagram photos. All the shit you’re supposed to do. The shit that you want to do. The shit that looks like success from the outside. But most of the film and TV WORK that I was and have been doing—the actual work itself—I could do in my fucking sleep. A couple of times I even did. Literally. Ask around. Everything was growing in terms of my career, except me as an actor.
And then, I sat down with this script and started to play with it. And, man, the shit was coming up. My own shit. Gushing right out of me and pouring into the text. Without trying to make anything happen consciously at all. The part of me that the script needed was just there. It was in me. Dying to come out. I didn’t have to chase some foreign entity of “character.” I just was the character. I am the character. It’s all in me. All I have to do is let it out. And that’s when this epiphany hit me.
The last two years have been tough for me in a variety of personal ways I don’t really need to go into. I withdrew for a long, long time. I did a lot of isolating. I watched a lot of Netflix. I smoked a lot of weed and ate a lot of gummy bears to numb the pain. I felt sorry for myself. I resented things and people and associations. I kept up just enough of an online presence so that people knew I wasn’t dead and maybe even thought I was doing fine. But nobody ever saw me. Nobody really knew for sure how or where I was. A very, very select few knew. But not many.
And a part of all of this—and finally, this is my fucking point—was that something that I had always had to help me work through whatever happened to be going on in my life, at any given time, had been absent for the last two years. And that thing was theatre. The level of work that theatre demanded of me. That constant mining of myself.
I have quoted Sean Smythe often when he said, years ago, that “theatre costs you,” and it does. If you’re doing it right. But the flip side of that is something he may have seen, as well, but I hadn’t seen until now. And that is that the theatre also pays you back. I had never thought that thought—partly because theatre pays so fucking badly but, also, I didn’t see the value of all of the other things it gave me until they weren’t there. It has always given me a place to unpack my shit—the burdens, the pain, the remorse, the disappointments, the sorrow, the guilt, the losses, the unbearable fucking weight of existing some days—so that I didn’t have to carry those things around like a weight around my fucking neck. A weight that made it near impossible to hold my head up. Not just to walk with a semblance of dignity but to see all that was right in front of me and how fucking lucky I was to have it. If that sounds corny, so be it. Treasure this corny moment. I’ll rarely be this open.
I don’t know if theatre needs me at all, truth be told, but I sure as fuck need it. And I have needed it for a long time without even knowing it. For more reasons than just this. But this is a big one. A really fucking big one. It keeps me close to sane. It helps me process and digest life. And it has and will hopefully continue to keep me from just giving in to all of it, at some point, and turning myself into a headline that will fill some media space and dominate your Facebook newsfeed for about 24 hours or so.
So, thank you to the theatre. Sincerely. I’m really more grateful than you will possibly ever know to be coming back to spend some time together, trying to figure the whole fucking thing out again.
Ps: And, of course, thanks to all of you, Nappoholics or not, for continuing to read and support the column and Intermission Magazine. I’m wishing all of you a safe and happy holiday. Be good to each other. It’s really not that hard. And why the fuck not? We’ll all be dead in ten minutes, anyway.
See you in the Double Twenties.