Friday, August 28, 2009

ON ACTING: Avoiding the 'Repetition Blues'

Even if I agree that actors should listen and look specifically at the other actor to create emotional reality on stage, how can I be expected to listen and look with fresh ears and fresh eyes when I have heard all that dialogue before, much less watched that same actor(s) from performance to performance?

My advice: don’t just listen to the other actors’ words-qua-words. Listen to the ever changing pitch, tone, rhythm and volume of their voices as they say the words. Written words-as-words may have precise constancy from performance to performance, but the voice of the other actor (not to mention the look on his face) will inevitably shift in subtle and ever changing ways from performance to performance, rendering personal nuances even in the supposedly fixed logic of what is being said.

Words-as-words, the utterance of abstract symbols, have rarely been definitive in my life. I personally take the facts of others speaking words to me with a subjective grain of salt. I have found find at least half the time spoken words (mine and others) have tended to obfuscate rather than clarify; I and others use words as masks, deniers of the truth, more than revealers.

The truth lay not in the words, but in the phsical conext surrounding the words.


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