Saturday, May 21, 2011

ON ACTING: Some Comic Advice

Actors often practice in minute and precise detail their planned response to another characters actions. For example, they say “I will pause here for three seconds after she says 'I love you,' or “As soon as they stop talking I will respond immediately to what he says…” Or they will decide in advance how they are going feel about what another character says or does to them: "When she says that I will feel angry," or, "When she touches me I will feel sexually aroused." When an actor attempts these specific controls on their subsequent reactive behavior, they are predicting not only when and exactly how another character is going to act toward them, but also they are predicting in advance how their own complex emotional system is going to respond toward any stimulus from the other character. This attempt at predicting the exaxt specifics of an actor-as-character’s performance future is a monumental task; one that I would offer is impossible even for the greatest actor. Better the heeds Mel Brooks’ advice about acting: “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to [definitively] eat it.”


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