Friday, October 12, 2007

ON ACTING: A Performer's Resonance

A great actor's performance resonates with profound emotion. That's why we want to watch great actors througout the performance--or for that matter throughout a career: because their emotional experience in performance is so multi-layered, multi-dimentional and multi-echoing that it grips us--the audience--to extent of our humanity.

In a great performance we see a piece of dialogue, an event, occur in the world of that actor, and we sense a great emotional registering, not merely on the actor's surface--in their surface overt response--but down deep, as it were, we see it in their eyes (the windows of the soul) most especially, as if the event has struck such a chord so deep within the person/character, an experience so critical, so profound, that we get a sense of their past as well as their present...and in some instances, the yet to be formed, future. (After all, what is one's present but an accumlation of one's past--and intimations of one's future--as expereinecd in the present, registered, recorded and filed away in one's emotions.)

Emotions, and emotional responses in actors, are either (1) like a small cave--single chambered and mono-echoing (and in those performances forgetable), or (2) endlessly reverberating, carved, seeminly without any sense of beginning, middle or end.

If you make a sound/event at the entrance of a single chambered cave, the sound resonates only singly, and superficially at that. (This is the pattern for average actors, whose performances are forgettably competent.) But when a sound/event occurs in a great actor, as if at the entrance of a hugely hollowed out cavern, who has become a multi-chambered mystery of endless rooms, the response echoes repeatedly, over and over again, as if though time and space and every cell in the actor's body. We stand at the entrancee of that kind of cave, or in the presence of the great actor, with awe, fascination and appreciation. We, in the audience, resonate equally.

The actor's chore in becoming a great and memorable actor, therefore, is to make sure s/he has carve out, through scene analysis, emotional exercises, and a life time of experence, the chambers of their own--and the character's--emotional past/nature, so that when the events of the performed piece strike against him/her during the performance, those events will resonate with a depth, breadth and profundity that will leave them, and us-the-audience through them, mesmerized, moved and monumentally affected.


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