Sunday, May 18, 2008

ON ACTING: Eradicating Wasted Motion

"How do I tame myself; learn to rid myself of unspecified, unnecessary motion?"

Economy follows purpose. Notice that most of us don't wander about, meandering to and fro, when crossing a street. We sense the cost if we tarry (we will get hit by a car, bump into other people which will delay us, etc.!) so we move directly across the street; only moving sideways or pausing, incurring necessary non-direct movements. It is analygous to a football player with football in hand heading toward the goal line, moving to and fro only to the degree that such movements serve his purpose of scoring.

Good acting follows the same paradigm: we aim to get to the other side of the scene (winning the conflict with the other character) as expeditiously as possible and at minimum cost to energy and motion.

The human body is built for economy. Your term, "unnecessary, unspecified motion" is just that: Wasted motion encourages cost. It is a profligate expenditure.

Then why do we do it? Why do we move unproductively about, "untamed" as you say, through a scene, wasting movement and energy that could otherwise be excitingly harnessed into bold verbal and physical statements?

Because we are afraid: afraid of 'us versus traffic', afraid, as it were, of ourselves and our ability to judge the 'flow of human vehicles' in the scene. We are afraid of 'crashes', the emotion the scene causes in us, the very personal commitment good, honest acting requires of our emotions. So instead of moving forward, we move about, we fidget, we meander...anything but confront the issue head on. "Unnecessary, unspecified motion" is a form of procrastination (which is a product of fear); it arises when we refuse to confront the conflictual task before us, and its challenge for us to move firmly, directly, tactically through the other characters in the scene toward our goals.

How do we get rid of the fear? We learn to face our emotions through personal understanding, and by using our emotions over and over on stage, moving our bodies and voices ever forward instead of sideways, never back, we learn to enjoy the challenge of conflict, we accept and learn to enjoy the emotions conflictual behavior produces, and we learn how to channel that emotion into purposeful, tamed, necessary...and economical...motion. Emotion felt onstage or set only hurts for a little while. Believe me, it'll never kill you.


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