Tuesday, August 28, 2007

ON ACTING: The Relucant Past

There is no past; there's just an ever expanding present.

The present is simply a re-ordering of the past (in the present) into what we call the future (see Newton's Conservation of Matter and Energy...where nothing in the universe is lost; just continually re-forming).

In an honest performance, before the 'swizzle stick' of the present stirs up the settled mud of the past, reforming it into what we can call the future, or, in truth, the 'new' present--an actor's emotions should remain potential, buried, dammed up--past--sub-cognitive, swimming at the muddy bottom of our character's psyches, hoping, if painful, never to be surfaced.

It is only at the scene progresses, when the events and 'stimuli' of the present conflict forcefully stir up the old mud, at first mildly, then gradually, and only most forcefully at the end of the scene, does a character's self-awareness of the past--who and what they 'really' are--become a matter of the character's inevitable (and generally unwilling) self-recognition, or self-discovery.

Self-awareness--on stage or off--is a long, arduous and generally meandering path, a tortured road from which most human beings stubbornly seek a detour (think of how much time and effort psychiatrists spend to 'open' up a patient to the truth of themselves--even when the patient is seemingly willing...and is paying a price of $150 an hour). Therefore an actor who 'plays' his character as if having--or worse, too willing to have--instantaneous and profound insights into their deepest muddy emotional past, and they offer this clear penetrating view of and through muddy waters from the very beginning of the scene; and--worse yet--are all-too-eager to feel, recognize and reveal/share these insights with other characters on stage (and through that mechanism, the audience, itself), is giving a starkly dishonest performance. Life doesn't happy that way; and therefore neither should a good actor's performance.


Post a Comment

<< Home