Tuesday, May 03, 2011

ON ACTING: And Sex and Sports

I have often been accused in my teaching career of using too many sexual images in my meditations on acting. Why? A dirty young man? A dirty old man? Perhaps both. But I still find sexual analogies oh-so-apt when trying to explain acting. To begin with, both efforts involve similar concepts and language: acting and sex involves interrelating, conflict (people banging into one another, pun intended), deep emotional involvement, passion, build, and climax. Also, both acting and sex shared the same divine origins (at least in Western Civilization)...they were favored by the same Greek God: Dionysus (who also was connected strongly with wine).

Good acting has always been to me like good sex. The less you fake it, the more satisfying it will be; and the more the passion arises in conjunction with the other person, the more both of you will be served by performance success and gratification.

There are differences between acting and sex of course: for one thing the dialogue in sex seem to be less important than in acting. (The Dionysian rites--part of early Greek religion--were at their core dance efforts. The introduction of dialogue--scripts--oarticipants talking while moving and feeling, came later. NOTE: when the dialogue if acting or sex is introduced and does transcend banalities, however, both efforts are served. A good script --sculpted language--is always welcome, in bed or on stage.)

I must confess I use sexual images less now in teaching...they say it is unseemly at my age. My wife recently criticized me for writing sexual banter in a scene I was creating...it had to do with two people in the seventies recalling a distant time of love: "I don't think it's realistic for people of their age to talk so openly about sex like that. It doesn't seem real," she said. I just sighed, and moved on.

(Full disclosure: I now use sports analogies less as well; but that diminishing of usage may have to do with gender appropriateness rather than age-appropriateness. Women relate less to sports: they often sit boringly unresponsive when I talk about sports in terms of emotion, spontaneity, conflict and...yes, I must admit, banging around within a proscribed field of endeavor.)

They say each effort, whether in analogy or in teaching, has its own time and effectiveness. So goodbye to sexual analogies; goodbye to sports analogies. And hello to...old age, death and eternity analogies?!...forget it.

Acting will always be, with or without sexual and sports analogies for me a celebration of life, not a meditation on it. Acting is a joyous effort to create life, and celebrate characters involvement in it. As a teacher I may be forced by aging appropriateness to use sexual (and sports) analogies less...but I encourage other teachers to use them more. They are true. They are effective. They are pertinent. Acting is Living. Sex creates Life. Sports celebrates Life. All efforts are gloriously different sides of the same Living coin.


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