Thursday, February 05, 2009

ON ACTING: "Complexity"

Many years ago I had the good fortune to direct the brilliant actor Raul Julia in a film. Before every scene we would sit and analyze the upcoming scene, and mutually agree on was the emotional essence of his character in the scene.

Then as he started away toward the set for filming, Raul would stop, turn and we’d say to one another: “And yet”….

That was our code way of expressing: “for the character the exact opposite may also be simultaneously true.” Characters are like people; they love and hate simultaneously. They are brave and cowardly simutaneously. They are certain and confused simultaneously.

Exciting characters contain paradox, contradiction, irony, and mutual opposition, even absurdity.

When an onstage stimulus occurs in the presence of a dull actor, it echoes with monochromatic dullness, singularly, as if off the walls of a one room cave.

But when that same event echoes in the performance of an exciting actor, one who has hollowed out the cavern walls of their own deepest life, who has--through a career of emotional rehearsal process--become a high-ceiling, multi-roomed grotto of feeling, it resonates profoundly, over and over again, like the eternal inner voices in the caves of E.M. Forrester’s Passage to India.


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