Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ON ACTING: The Difference between Stubbornness and Assertion

Stubbornness and assertion are both manifestations of strength. But there are critical differences between the two postures. Stubbornness is passive, protective; whereas assertion is active, problem solving. Stubbornness can be represented by a person with heels dug in, refusing to be moved; assertive problem-solving stance can be characterized by person up on their toes, trying to move forward. Stubbornness protects the present, refusing to be taken to an unwanted future. As such, it is defensive in nature. Solving undervalues the present, seeking a more beneficial future. It is offensive in nature.

Human stubbornness, born of a darker, more pessimistic nature, thinks 'insurance'. Human solving, with a greater optimism concerning the future, thinks 'investment'. Stubbornness watches the ground beneath its feet, avoiding tripping over what is sees as inevitable bumps in the road; solving has eyes ahead, focused on the horizon, assured that greater possibility lies there, bumps and all.

Stubbornness minimizes mistakes. Solving maximizes mistakes. And as such, solving--and the characters who embrace its forward leaning, assertive, and offensive stance--is much more the stuff of drama and comedy. Drama is about people who overestimate their possibilities or underestimate their costs. Reasonable people stay in the audience. Onstage, drama's character's passion outruns their reason. Fools--and interesting, good actors--rush in where angels fear to tread.


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