Talks with Terry: Travel and the Actor Part 2

May

31

In this three part series Terry Knickerbocker discusses the role of travel in his life and why it’s so important for actors to explore the world.

Pictured above: Terry in Ammainaickanur, Tamil Nadu (in India). Below: Talipparamba, Kerala (in India).

Is there any particular culture that made a big impression on you?

I continued every year to go to other cultures – and the one that made the strongest impact on me is India. I’ve been going to India steadily since 1998. When I first went there I thought I would just go there once – that was my pattern. I’d go to Turkey one year- Morocco another. But it just put a hook in my heart and turned me upside down. I’ve never been to a place so different from here.

What was so different about India?

It developed a spiritual practice for me. I’d always been a seeker but I found a place by accident. There was a book that had come out that year called “From Here to Nirvana” which listed two hundred places to visit in India. And I found this Ashram in Keral called Anandashram. I have been going there ever since – its become my spiritual home. I’ve brought my wife there, and will bring my son too. We Americans feel that we’re so important and it was changed me going to a place where so much of what we think is – isn’t important. Even in the poorest areas of India – their spirits are much happier than the people you see wandering around NYC.

In India, what we expect isn’t going to happen. Things don’t work so well – or at least it didn’t when I first started going there. The internet had barely arrived! You had to make phone calls in a shack where it was very expensive and you paid by the minute. Things work differently. You can get sick very easily if you aren’t careful. You have to be very aware. It keeps you on your toes. But then there are extraordinary rituals and people will let you in.

How is being placed outside of your comfort zone useful as an actor?

When I travel I always feel softened by it – and curious. It’s like I get my windshield cleaned when I go to another culture. Actors are collectors. Every time you’re having an experience in life as an actor part of you is in the experience, and part of you is saying, “Oh my god this is going in my trunk. I can’t wait to use what’s happening to me now.” Like if it’s extreme cold –and you’re going, “This is the coldest place I’ve ever been in my life” part of you is saying “I’m going to use this in a play sometime.”

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