Monday, October 02, 2006


Great art is learning to say a lot simply. As Thomas Mann is said to have instructed about making love in a gondola: "Move little; now move much." Muhammad Ali said it in his fashion: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." The great artist must offer the power of an atomic bomb in a delivery system the size of a pea. Notice there are two aspects to this: the amount of energy transferred and the condensation of the delivery mechanism. The great actor's obligation is likewise twofold: have inner complexity drive their outer simplicity.

Inner complexity is the actor's emotional multi-dimensionality. It is the totality of one's human-being-ness. It is beyond cognitive knowledge. It embraces in performance the experiencing of inner opposition, contradiction, and paradox. A great performance poses great questions, then simply offers textually strong character statements/answers.

How does one achieve that? More pointedly, is it possible for all actors to achieve that complexity and profundity in every performance...AND with great simplicity? The answer lies in a further question: "Are actors not human?" Complexity, profundity, opposition, contradiction, paradox--and simplicity--lies at the heart of the human condition. The smart actor learns to get out of their way; to be simply comfortable as their character (their life onstage) is dramatically uncomfortable.

The great actor must train themselves to move beyond personal doubt, fear and hesitancy; to allow themselves to be complexly and simply human in performance, to allow their natural human complexity to be experienced in a simple performance; to allow the performance activated dopamine to flow simply through the cellular richness; to follow Thomas Mann's injunction, "Move little; now move much;" and don't tip over the gondola!!


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