Friday, July 03, 2009

ON ACTING: 'Reasonable' Choices

Actors: allow your characters the freedom to act irrationally, and more often than not, you will find you have acted properly, according to the script: after all, if they were rational, straight-thinking and logical characters, they probably would not be in comedy and tragedy in the first place!

Absolutely rational behavior should be left to the world of science and saints. Drama and comedy are the world of fools and sinners.

Exciting actors and fools rush in where angels fear to tread. There is nothing more endearing to an audience than a character that screws up time and time again, yet continues on.

My computer’s ‘spell check’ defines irrational as “foolish, crazy, ridiculous, absurd, silly and unfounded”; I would like to add fundamentally human.

Dramatic characters by definition make mistakes much more often than they make correct choices. Was Don Quixote rational is tilting with windmills? Was Prometheus rational in thinking he could steal fire from the Gods and get away with it? Was Hamlet rational in following a ghost’s demands?

If a character makes nothing but rational choices in a film or play, the film or play would last two minutes instead of two hours. Mental blind alleys are the emotional geography of comedy and drama. No one wants to sit for two hours--or pay $100 a ticket on Broadway--to watch highly reasonable people doing reasonable, intelligent, sanitized and rational activities.

We would find these characters (and actors) almost as boring as we do in everyday life. We go to the theatre to escape those people (ourselves)! Pease don't populate plays and films with them!


Post a Comment

<< Home