Tuesday, January 22, 2008

ON ACTING: Virginity is Renewable

Actors are constantly--and properly--told to live a performance 'moment-by-moment'; that is, they are told: "You mustn't anticipate what is going to to occur next in the scene; rather allow each moment to occur spontaneously, freshly, as if for the first time."

Isn't that easier said than done; in fact, isn't it impossible? How does one renew innocence on an ongoing basis? How does one become a virgin over and over again? Once lost, aren't these states gone forever?

Like 'moment-to-moment' acting (albeit the scene occurring over and over again), character innocence and virginity are mere states of mind. Their repeated attainment can be achieved, learned--and reinforced--by practice and craft. An actor-as-character can legitimately wear white at every wedding.

To attain these states constant freshness and renewal, I would suggest to the actor that before every performance, before every repetition of a scene the actor says quietly to themselves: "This will be a very short scene; one action, one line at most. I will attain my objective in the scene easily, quickly, at a minimum of cost. True, it may have been rough before, but not this time. This time it will be a snap."

(Think of how often we recover from failed relationships and enter the next one believing it is going to be snap! Talk about attaining renewed innocence!)

With that unanticipated state of mind at the entrance to the scene, the actor will more likely be surprised by the ongoing events of the scene, making the events--and their length, severity and difficulty totally unexpected, and the life of the scene much more likely to take on a 'moment-to-moment' character.


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