Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ON ACTING: An actor wrote to me: "I was accused by my director of 'commenting on the material'. What did she mean by that?"

My response: The actor in peformance has a fiduciary trust to both author and audience to enact the character's point of view of the material only. He/She must not play 'on top of the material' (another variant of 'commenting' on the material). Such overview acting is a betrayal of that fiduciary trust; the actor-as-actor must not proselytize his/her point of view of the social, political, religious or philosphical issues inherent in the material. If the actor doesn't like the point of view of the character or the author, he/she should turn down the job. A good actor accepts and defends the point of view of his character-as-character. A good actor leaves it up to the audience/jury to later, after the performance, castigate, condemn or agree with his/her character's point of view. For the good actor, during the performance, the murderer has a legitimate reason to kill, the thief to steal, and the whore to make a living. The actors' performance job is merely to kill, steal and whore excitingly, with full human three-dimentionality. That, in itself, is a full time, demanding job. Any final discover of meaning and judgment...the author's intent...is left for the audience (and sometimes the characters themselves...Aristotle called it the character's final moment of self-recognition, or self-discovery) to be determined at the end of the play. It should arise independent of, and without, any actor-as-actor-judgments imposed during the evolving performance.


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