Monday, March 22, 2010


Sorry for my absence in steady wrtiting the last five weeks. Pain clouds the mind and hinders the desire for creativity and communication. I have been suffering from two fractured ribs and a fracatured vertabrae for five weeks now. (The source? A mystery.) The hurt has been receeding, however, and like Spring, the buds of ideas, sentences and paragraphs are beginning to bloom. A few more days...

Friday, March 12, 2010

ON ACTING: The Value of Performance Complexity

Great drama through onstage dramatic conflict keeps alive through the great unresolved issues of human existence. The philosopher Hegel said that tragedy is not a matter of right versus wrong, but of right versus right. As a corollary, one character being right does not necessarily make the other character be wrong.

Complexity of performance enhances the audience's experience. By putting the audience through a complex emotional experience, where there is no singular right and/or singular wrong, and allowing those complex character emotions to stir concomitant complex feeling and thinking within the audience, the actor forces the audience to consider the fullness of the presented dramatic issue and in the long run to understand it and themselves better. That is the whole point of drama, by the way: to keep alive and emotional at the forefront of the audience’s consciousness their personal, social and philosophical unresolved issues. As James Joyce said in his Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man”: the artist in his work must “forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

ON ACTING: The Simultaneity of Emotion

In a complex acting performance, as in great classical music, there are many notes played simultaneously. Actors who are untrained or self-indulgent always want to play the emotional notes of their performance one at a time: first anger, then sadness, then confusion, as if they can’t experience more than one thing at a time. In doing so such actors are playing falsely. Life is a multi-dimensioned reality in both time and space.

Audiences who leave a satisfying performance in the theatre leave not aware of every single note played, but having experienced the music, the overall sum of the parts.

So an actor who ‘plays’ emotional moments as if they are discrete occurrences plays falsely. The audience, who, I repeat, knows life (without even in the theatre consciously knowing they know it) recognize truth from falseness in performance. They ‘know’ emotional changes in life are not discrete events, with one emotion stopping before another begins, with the notes of a musical staff played individually rather than all at once, so when they see an actor’s performance such as we have described it, they cease to identify with the actor-as-character, or his performance.