Wednesday, May 16, 2007

ON ACTING: The Past and the Present

What is the relationship of the past (the character's past) to the present (the character's objective).

Philosophically: If the past were perfect, humans would be in a perpetual state of satisfaction. No one would need to fulfill present goals: everybody would already have everything they require. We humans could just sit collectively on a mountain top in Tibet, and collectively release: "....hhhuummmmm!"

But (at least for characters in drama...and my life!) the past has not been perfect. Gaps were created in my factual and emotional experience that I feel strongly need present redress. The loss of a love-one creates in me the need for a new partner. The loss of a job requires new employment. Yesterday's digestion leaves me hungry today. (Dare I say that the sniff of death wants me to live forever...whether on earth or in heaven?)

In fact, in acting terms, we often say "Where I'm coming from determines where I'm going." "The past dictates the present." "Know the past and you can understand the present." In effect: The present goal/objective/aim of a character in a scene is a direct reflection of the character's lack-of-fulfillments/denials/losses in the past. (That's why in acting we want to know a character's 'Prior History', the 'Moment Before', 'Relationships'--even a character's biological inheritance...I hate to tell you: but genes aren't perfectly inherited from Mom and Dad in blissful perpetual balance, either.)

Life (and acting) is a dramatic, objective-seeking teeter-totter. We enter the world (or the scene) with either our ass up in the air, or else hitting bottom, digging deeply into the earth...and then we spend the rest of our lives (and performance) trying to get--and stay--in balance.(through goal-seeking and the achievement of our multi-various aims!)


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