Like many actors, Eric Gerard juggles multiple roles. Through October 2 at Court Theatre, he is playing the lead (made famous by Cary Grant) in the madcap farce Arsenic and Old Lace, set this time in Brooklyn with a mostly Black cast. And a good chunk of his free time is spent literally climbing the walls of the Avondale gym First Ascent. But the Ravenswood resident’s day job may be his most rewarding role, since it connects two of his passions: acting and meditation.
As co-owner and artistic director of Black Box Acting, a training school in Humboldt Park, Gerard, 29, folds meditation exercises into his curriculum. “Your ability to internally visualize things becomes clearer,” he says. “This tool I use to take care of myself as a human, I can also use to help deepen artistic practice.”
How do you start your day?
“On the good days, I make my bed. I meditate. Two or three mornings a week, I top-rope and boulder for exercise. Top-roping is when there’s a belay system connected to you with a pulley at the top, and the walls are 40 feet high. It takes more endurance with your forearms and your hands. Me and my buddy just got certified to do it.”
What’s your wellness philosophy?
“A healthy artist is a successful artist. Art relies on your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. As actors, we put ourselves under simulated emotional distress. So I practice aftercare to reorient my emotional landscape. It could be playing PlayStation 5 with the homies; it could be spending time with my partner or playing with my dog.”
Do you follow a specific diet?
“I’m a vegetarian. I used to be a vegan. My partner asked me, ‘Can you meet me halfway? If I stop eating so much meat, can you introduce something to your diet that’s easier to cook?’ So I started to include eggs. Life is too short for me to be turning my diet into dogma.”