Friday, March 02, 2007

ON ACTING: "Playing the Problem"

In a recent 'Comment' to another post:

David said...Could you say something about "playing the problem?" What it is, how to avoid it.

Cliff Osmond said...

The acting phrase, "playing the problem" is a derisive acting term that characterizes an actor who enters a scene indulging himself/herself with the full emotional weight of the scripted dilemma: irrespective of whether that dilemma is large or small: caused by the girl who doesn't want to continue a relationship, the boss who is trying to fire him as an employee, or the puppy who wants to be walked when the hot date is ready for bed. The 'problem-playing' actor in any of these scenes would usually automatically comport himself throughout a scene with a maximum sense of great frustration; moaning, complaining, exhibiting the full range of emotional agony that a human being seems susceptible to when confronting a similar tasks; in effect, accepting his/her defeat from the very beginning of the scene.

The way to avoid "playing the problem" (and, by the way, this acting behavior--as it does in everyday life--results in an unattractive acting persona...unattractive primarily because it is false: if the actor was really hurting that much, he would be trying to solve the problem in the scene!!!)

And therein lies the corrective to "playing the problem": the good actor must enter every scene, and its inevitable conflictual dilemma, focused--from the beginning and throughout--on ending the personal emotional agony in the scene, changing the circumstances causing the unwanted emotional experience, defeating the other character(s) with scripted words, deeds and resultant feelings; all with the intent to get the recalcitrant 'others' in the scene to come around to his/her point of view.

My personal mantra for avoiding "playing the problem" is simple: prior to entering the scene, say (to yourself), "Don't suffer; solve. Don't whine; win. Don't complain; convince.", lose or draw, acting in such a manner will create a much more appealing--and truer--character/performance.


Blogger David said...

Perfect. Thanks so much!

10:44 AM  

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