Tuesday, October 17, 2006


This is not a blog about theatre, god knows, but I think several of you are involved in the business. One of the reasons I'm in it is because I love actors. I absolutely adore them. I believe actors are just about the only people who know anything about truth. Sitting down with a bunch of minstels and chewing the fat about all the sublties and nuances of the human nature - well, there just about nothing better. It's like group therapy, I tell you. Only its better than group therapy because nobody is talking about themselves, at least nominally. Acting is like anonymous blogging in action: taking on another face and telling your secrets.

That said, actors can also be the most damaged, emotionally unstrung, and challenging people to work with. My theory is that this is largely due to certain kinds of training, like Method or Meisner. Actors are very sensitive by nature, and as a result insecure, self-absorbed, and constantly on the defense. Bad training, in my opinion, is training that forces an actor to forget the audience and focus solely on their internal relationship with the character. This can be dangerous, giving the actor license to blame external elements or other actors for their lack of concentration. When everything becomes about acting as a "craft," the real world around the actor serves as a constant, interruptive force, when it should be incorporated into their study.

The actor's relationship with the audience is a subject little touched by acting teachers and directors, yet it is one of phenomenal importance. Acting is a craft, but it is also a servitude. Whenever I need an actor to behave a certain way so that the audience will know how he/she came from point A to point B, I have to pad the note in a lot of words about motivation and desire, when what I really want to say is "Do it because the people in the back row have no idea what the fuck it is you are doing!"

It would save me oodles of money on reheasal space, thats for sure.

The very best actors I've worked with are the ones who do the job without taking it too seriously. They see their characters as puppets and themselves the puppeteer, they co-exist casually with the real world going on around them: the audience, the lights, the sounds, the street noises, all tangible things that surround the little playset they've built in the front of the room. They are friends with their co-stars, not competitors, they help out when help is needed and don't say "It's not my job," or pretend they have a bus to catch.

If I have one truth to tell my actors, it's this: talent is only 50% of it. I have worked with extremely talented actors I will never work with again because they spent too much time blaming me, my cast, my crew, the wind, the birds, the trees, and the nose on their face for their own damn internal struggles that would be there in the first place if they would just lighten the fuck up. Theatre is community, if you want to practice your craft uninterrupted, take up painting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How absolutely right you are about the importance of the audience.
The actor is, in fact,the master story-teller, but without the audience (be they 1 or 1,000 strong)the story is not heard and thus, there IS no story.

You can groove all day long on how great you think you are, how natural, truthful, blah, blah, blah.....but in the end, the actor has to have feedback from the audience to feel complete: The give and take, not to mention the exuberance you feel when you have them and won't let them go..........


10:31 PM  

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