We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Shaffer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
At 21 years old I decided to pursue a professional entertainment career. The commitment was made during a particularly difficult time in my life and the pressure to make something of myself was ever present. A personal dedication to being disciplined in my craft as a habit, lead me to approach any circumstance from a place of confidence. I always did my best based on the disciplines learned from various sources. Often in pursuit of my focused endeavor, I had to innovate to create the tangible aspects of my performance. The key to accomplishing these tasks was perseverance. Creating something never made takes perseverance as a habit. A mantra for this that I referred to when ideas were lacking is; “Can, Am, Will” I can, I am, I will. Positive aspirations lead to positive resolves. In the early years of my career I had a dream regarding my choice to be an entertainer. In the dream I was on stage performing and as I looked into the audience my feeling was that everyone in the audience was my children. Since at the time I felt I would be childless in my career pursuits, the effect was quite profound. From that dream I developed the habit of always considering audiences with parental responsibility to keep them safe in the company of my illusion.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Hello, My name is Michael and I am a Creative Interactive Artist. I preface this segment with a known phrase associated with addictive behavior. I perform as an 11′ tall walking talking anthropomorphic Tree. To accomplish this illusion the incorporation of Visual, Behavioral and Auditory aspects of treeness were imperative. The visual was accomplished by an understanding of raw materials gained through work experiences in the trades and as an arborist. Behaviorally I asked the question; How would a tree… then allowed physics to fill in the gaps. As for the audio/speech it took the experience in performance to unlock how to best represent the Trees. All of this was a matter of process to attain the goal of a spectacle worthy of attention. All of my life experiences have played a part in the creation of the costume, the seeming treeness of my performance, and sound and cadence of my speech. I have always had a passion for trees and found myself involved with trees in many forms from climbing them as a child to grooming the as an arborist to working with wood as a cabinet maker. Doing anything is easy when you’ve done your homework so to speak. I have learned that one should be always focused on learning. Because what your learning may be important down the line of ones purpose in life
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Unsure if this is applicable to me in that until this year I’ve been on the road, filling the place of the visitor. So as the Visitor I would enjoy a visit to the Art museum. Often there is a touring exhibit that focuses on a artist or movement that influenced the art community. Understanding how that influence affected artists of the time can offer perspective on the change my own art can affect. Second; in order to understand the patrons that will attend the event I am participating, I would enjoy visiting a local or State museum of History. Often there are residual effects of local history that can lend material for performance or soften the edges of set performance pieces. Often I have mentioned to those that I visit that I would like to eat somewhere that is only in that city, town, or area. Sometimes the corporate dining scene can be just what you expect. While dining at a one off establishment can be an experience to remember. I enjoy the company of worldly people. Elenor Roosevelt once said of entertaining people at the White House; “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and places, simple minds discuss people.”
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Along the path of my success I had the pleasure to observe and work with amazing people both as peers, instructors, administrators and directors. Of those many here are a few that had pivotal influence. Venta Leone; Beverage Director Renaissance Pleasure Faire. Recognizing my talent for interactive spontaneous repartee while serving beverages, she removed me from the box (Ale Stand) and sent me to The Entertainment department and let loose a force on the attending public. Harvey Burman; Writer, Director, Actor. While in rehearsals for “Anne of A Thousand Days” I was having difficulty hitting the mark in a particularly dramatic scene, Harvey pulled me aside to ask me a few questions personal in nature. Giving me a personal foundation to work from. He then asked me to commit to this personal emotion then commit it to the scene. My commitment to this illusion allowed lead actors find their focus making the scene understandable to the audience and honor the authors intent. Gary Izzo: Director of “Bless the Mark Players” Author of “The Art Of Play” This book put words to my instincts as a performer and allowed me to realize that discipline can be a default when instinct seems vague.
Facebook: Apropos Productions/Tree of Life