Saturday, March 18, 2006

Mindfulness in Performance

I find worth noting that after my post "Mea Culpa, Take III," in which I moved from easy generalizations to more specific criticisms of common weakness in the 'Portland Acting style,' as I've come to think of it, comments from readers stopped coming in, save from Neal and Paul (kudos, guys). Is it possible that a critical dialogue focused on specific acting issues is not welcome? Or that we are not prepared for it? After all, it is more difficult to be discerning than merely pissy ('pissiness' tends to be my complaint about the Willamette Week and Mercury's idea of criticism,) but making art takes courage. It exposes us. When we shy away from thinking about, developing, and committing to practical standards, we shy away from that exposure. We shy from our desire to make something TRUE, rather than merely 'diverting,' when we manage to do even that.

A good, practical, critical discourse is no more or less about practicing mindfulness in our work. It's NOT about beating ourselves up.

About my own work: tonight was the second night of OPPENHEIMER. I'm happier with my performance tonight than I was last night, as I griped about, below. About an hour before going on, I did a good vocal warm up--homework for my private voice lessons--and, just before going on, played a bit with getting my character into my body; just a bit of swaggering back stage to remind me of how this guy embodies himself. So, when I entered, I felt 'on my voice,' and found a means to cue myself by paying attention to the heart of my physical movement whenever I felt disconnected. This attentiveness to voice and movement made all the difference to me, at least tonight. For me, working from 'the outside in' is equally--if not more--effective than working 'from the inside out,' though of course to separate the two 'ways in' is folly. Tonight, at least, I asked less of the audience's indulgence and gave them more to believe in. I did my job better.

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