Assignment: Answer these questions:
- What’s a GENUINE RISK for you, on stage?
- What’s a GENUINE RISK for you, in life?
- What GENUINE RISK have you witnessed other artists do onstage?
GENUINE RISK is the name of my favorite Kentucky Derby winner. She died Aug 18th 2008. A couple of weeks later, I became aware of her. I was teaching solo performance at The Actors Theatre of Louisville Apprentice Program. Outside the theater is a statue to Genuine Risk. I’d walk to work, get a coffee, and pet the statue or just stand next to her. I went to Churchill Downs to see the horses run early mornings and I’d watch videos in the museum of the old derbies. Genuine Risk won the Kentucky Derby in 1980, one of the few fillies to do so, ever. She was a grand champion, a chestnut mare with a bold white stripe down the center of her nose who flew around the track. Her racing stripe was fierce. One day in acting class, I was trying to make a point about what was crucial about stage work. I asked the Apprentices if they knew the name of the horse whose statue was right downstairs. No one knew. So they all ran out of class and raced to the statue and came back with the answer: Genuine Risk. Her name became our call to action. The core of our work: to identify what would be a genuine risk for each of us as artists, to name it, and take it. Year after year I’ve instilled this message to the actors as the heart of our work together: Take a Genuine Risk. Then I received a photo from three Apprentices: Katie, Chris, and Zoe, who went together and got tattooed on their feet a note I had written: GENUINE RISK.