Monday, February 14, 2005

My Reply to Letter: "On Being Twenty-One; Playing Twelve"

Lisa wrote: I am told every night at rehersals "I dont believe you" or "you sound flat" or "I can see in your eyes that you dont know what you are doing". Harsh words considering that I want to be amazing at my craft. I look the part but it is hard being 21 and trying to act 12. However I am a naturally playful person and do seem very 12ish at times. I am having a VERY hard time connecting with my inner child and trying to sound natural and not flat like im reciting lines. I do have a fear of emberessment which I understand I am going to have to get over. I read your web site and I understand what you are saying, however I still have a hard time tapping into that inner 12 year old. If you have any pointers it would be greatly apprecieated!! Thank you so much.

I write back: Lisa...From the negative statements you have been receiving in rehearsal (the comments are perhaps true, are also unfair and not very constructive). The critics instead should help you 'know what you are doing' through good instruction and direction. I would offer the following: don't try to play twelve. Be twelve--the twelve year old LISA. You are not that much older to tell you the truth!!! Listen and look at the people from whom we are seeking things in the scene, and discover new things about them. Feel new things:the confusing stirrings of puberty, wonderment, innocence, joy, energy, exhuberance that young people feel when interacting with new people, especially adults. So in the next rehearsal, AS LISA when you try to convince the other characters in the scene with your dislogue to agree with you (this is very important to remember: people use language to convince others), and then, when you listen to them in turn, let the innocence, confusion, sexual stirrings, wonderment and joy in Lisa be stimulated by what they say; and let those feelings spontaneously make you say the next line(s) to them to convince them anew.

You might even try to respond to them in a rehearsal or two in your own words, paraphrasing the dialogue: how would the real Lisa express those ideas in the dialogue when she was twelve when she was trying to convince someone of something. The main thing is: don't let the critics get you down. And have emotional fun. They call plays plays because plays should be playful. Enjoy what is...whatever occurs moment to moment in the scene. Now that's what being young is!!