Tuesday, October 30, 2007


The student's acting was firm and assertive. She pursued her character-goals with a purposeful force...but she left no room for doubt. Her characters were always perfect; always right; always certain of victory. She knew how to win; but not how to lose. Her path was Godlike in its omniscience. Her characters were idealizations of people: people as they should be, not as they are. Her acting, her characters, were Godlike...and emotionally uninteresting...and therefore emotionally unidentifiable by an audience.

God is very boring; at least in drama. Perhaps that is why there is so few movies and films about Him. Since His primary incarnation among the early Jews (who are credited with inventing/finding Him in His monotheistic form), He is always right, never wrong; 'always was, is and always shall be'. The one time He really was interesting as a dramatic character was in the story of Jesus, when God came down to earth and became human, God as Man, susceptible to doubt, pain and death. In fact it is often called the Greatest Story Ever Told.

(I am reminded of Milton's "Paradise Lost", in which God plays a prominent role, but the Devil steals the story.)

I am also reminded that before there was One All Powerful God, there was many Gods--and they were the 'stuff' of many stories and myths. They were divine, but also susceptible to 'human' frailties...lust, anger, jealousy, etc. As such, they were central to the storied origins of Western Drama, the great Greek plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides; not to mention the stories of Homer: the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Good actors are never God; rather, they are human, uncertain, susceptible to all the human emotions. Their characters may aspire to divinity; but their path is wrought with human weaknesses and vulnerabilities. That's what makes them interesting; and their stories mesmerizing: they are not all-powerful, they are not all-knowing. Rather, they suffer pain, lust, love, fear and doubt; and they are sensitive to the agony and ecstasy of living life to the fullest.

I told the student that: she listened, considered and absorbed; and on her next read through of the scene, emotion spilled into her performance. I thought: perhaps that's why she plays characters as Gods; she is so very, very human; perhaps frighteningly so.


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