Saturday, April 18, 2009

ON ACTING: Counter Intuitive

To excitingly act is counter intuitive; meaning: the sensible habits of everyday life are contrary to it.
It is like good skiing. The ski instructor tells you when losing balance to lean downhill. “Lean downhill?” you exclaim! “That’s the way I’m falling!” S/he says: “That’s how you get your balance."
It took me years of studying good acting to realize the logical craft of everyday living is exactly opposite the exciting craft of life onstage.
In everyday life, when we greet a stranger, we carefully shake hands, and then we step back and give them ‘space’. In acting you do the opposite. You ‘get in someone’s face.
In everyday life, if a meeting turns aggressively contentious, we say “goodbye”.
In acting, we clench our fists and say; “let’s get it on.”
In everyday life, we resist emotional over-stimulation. In good acting we embrace it.
In everyday life, we are taught never to discuss sex, politics or religion; to ‘look before we leap’; to ‘count to ten’; to limit our reach to our grasp; to limit objectives to the practical and the possible; minimize interdependence; to even distrust elegance (“They are putting on airs.”)

In exciting acting, we do exactly the opposite in all these things.

Actors on stage must seek danger.
We allow ‘eye locks’, whether sexual or combative, to linger.
We seek and permit elongated handshakes, withering looks. We are unafraid of excesses of sound, smell, touch and taste.
We leap before we look.

A good actors wants everything from everyone; instantly.

The need to accomplish all goals--all goals are overwhelmingly all-important--breeds excitement, danger and emotion.

Be safe in life. In acting, live dangerously.


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