Tuesday, April 10, 2012

ON ACTING: Banish the Liar

The most egregious sin for an actor is to give an unreal emotional performance; one is which the audience says afterwards "I didn't believe it. I could tell the actor was only pretending to feel."

To act (in the most pejorative sense) without emotional reality is to lie.

Nobody likes a liar.

While we may sometimes appreciate skillful liars--marvel at the cleverness of their deceit--in the long run we avoid them...on stage/screen or off.

Don't bad actors (liars) sometimes get away with it? Find a modicum of success in their careers?

Of course they do; like liars in everyday life find occasional success. But false actors (and liars everywhere) are advised to remember Lincoln's statement: "You can fool some of the people all the time; you can fool all of the people some of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time."

Lying as an actor--trying to get away with a series of unreal (emotionally uninvolved and personally unconnected) performances--will catch up to such performers in the long run. They will be applauded and embraced only by fools; which is a hell of an insecure fan base on which to build a career.

Actors should tell the truth as characters. They should embrace the character's beliefs--and feelings. "Judge not, lest ye be judged." If the character is a liar, lie honestly. Whatever the emotional life of the character is written to be, the actor should honestly feel it.

Actors in performance are free to feel anything demanded of the character. Why 'act' when one can truly 'be'; which is nothing more or less than that which we do everyday: spontaneously feel as life acts on us.

Acting is a profession for the courageously honest. On stage the good actor must embrace the following character job-descriptions, and emotionally comply: killers must hate; on screen lovers must love and the fearful must truly be frightened.

The audience pays for truth-wrapped-in-fiction in the theater, to escape the mendacity and shallowness of their everyday lives. Give them less than the whole spontaneous truth and they will reward you with less than their full embrace; now and for the rest of your (I gurantee you) lesser career.


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