Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ON ACTING: Avoiding the Siren's Call of Success

There is another temptation for an actor to "getting in their head", to falling prey to excessive consciousness of performance, and that is prior success: trying to remember all the wonderful acting elements found and practiced in rehearsal, or, even more, discovered in a previously very successful performance or ‘take’. "I’ve got to remember to do this…and remember to do that…” in the next take. "I was so wonderful last time!" So that actor’s brain stays open during a subsequent performance to try to replicate the successful past…which is impossible in the first place. The past is past. It is by definition gone. She who looks over her shoulder at the past, is most likely to trip over the present.

Each performance of a scene is new, impossible to replicate precisely. You cannot be brilliantly the same; you can only be brilliant again. The past is dead. Bury it. Create new life.

Remember how your brilliant performance happened in the first place? You probably weren’t thinking, right? You were just getting involved in the reality of the scene, letting the performance happen. So do the same again. Trust that if you were brilliant once, you can be brilliant again. Even within the narrowest of scripted and directed parameters. Even the performance of all the required notes of a Mozart concerto is never exactly the same. Ask the great pianists. Life--and art--is no susceptible to robotic replication. That's is what is so wonderful--and unavoidable--about being human...and therefore an actor.


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