Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ON ACTING: Dull? Bland? Shallow?

What do the words 'shallow', 'dull' and 'bland' mean, especially when applied to actors? Are they terminal conditions, categories in and of themselves, or mere way stations on the road from fear to courage? I opt for the latter.

People are not intrinsically shallow (that is, UN-deep). ALL people are deep; they only sometimes seem and/or are called 'shallow' because their emotional depth merely hasn't been drilled down to yet...the 'bit' of life has either not been hard enough yet to penetrate their rock of resistance, or their rock of resistance (fear) is too tough.

Similarly, no one is intrinsically 'dull'. Some people have just found it practical and beneficial to 'dull' themselves, to sand the sheen off their personality, as it were; like an animal that tries to avoid predator enemies by blending into the countryside. Remove from these 'dull' people the feeling of being surrounded by predators, the will 'UN-dull' themselves, rapidly reveal their intrinsic sheen of personality: like the old cowboy film school-marm who unfastens the hair bun, letting her hair--and sexuality--so that both can flow unimpeded into the night; or the mild-mannered reporter who becomes Superman when his values, honor or others lives re threatened.

The same holds for 'bland', which Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as "smooth or soothing in manner or quality", that is, a personality without rough edges. Nothing 'edgy' or threatening, or controversial or exciting about a 'bland personality', is there? Although...a thought: isn't that the way most neighbors remember serial killers: "they were so quiet and unassuming"...and 'bland'?

Shallowness, dullness and blandness are only stopping points on an extended journey; mere expedient, temporal conditions...subject to be ameliorated--changed--by courage and the proper conditions. What do you think two thirds of acting training--especially emotional acting training-is about?

Shallowness, dullness and blandness simply reveal a condition of flaccid emotional muscle, not the fundamental absence of muscle. The corrective: Work out emotionally and I promise you those muscles will Schwarzenegger-ize.


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