Saturday, September 27, 2008

ON ACTING: Conflict and Tactics

An alien comes to earth. S/he drops into a football stadium. S/he sits among the cheering people.

On the ground below are overly dressed-up humans running around in all directions; bodies are slamming into other bodies. S/he is bewildered and confused by the mish-mash of unexplainable activity. A brown object seems to be the focus of attention. The brown object is thrown forward, backward and sideways, kicked and carried. People get up, fall down, knock each other down, and gather in groups around the brown object.

S/he asks the man next to her: “What is going on?” The man answers: “Conflict and tactics.” The alien blinks. The man adds: “All that activity, all the humans on the playing field, including the handling of the semi-round brown thing called a football and the whistle blowing men in black and white stripes organizing the activity, is all in the service of goal-seeking: one group of individuals is trying to carry the brown ball across the other teams goal more times than the other team carries it across theirs. It’s really a very simple game.

That night s/he is invited to the theater. S/he asks the same question. S/he gets the same answer: all written and performed elements in a dramatic scene—including emotions--are tactics aimed toward achieving simply defned, oppositional goals.


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