Saturday, February 03, 2007

Acting = Transgression

I don't know why it took so long, but it just occurred to me today that acting is transgressive. I feel like a dodo, it took so long to get through, but now that it has, I feel this odd relief. I understand a little better why I can find it such a challenge. And why it's worth doing.

On another matter: I don't feel good about my part in recent dust-ups on Followspot. On the Uncle Vanya thread, my comment was mild, but gratuitous, and opened the door for not-so-mild comments from others. On the Misalliance thread, my comment about PCS was again mild, but too general--or, rather, too open-ended--and opened the door to bitter generalities by others. I enjoy posting to Followspot and taking part in the conversation there. I don't enjoy seeing things get ugly.


jason said...

Okay, you've completely lost me on the "transgression" thing - I've even had to do some searching to make sure I know what "transgress" means. What, about acting, is particularly transgressive? What law or authority or construct does it transgress?

David Loftus said...

I agree it CAN be transgressive, but I don't know that it is necessarily inherently so, any more than any kind of storytelling must be.

Kenichi said...

I'm afraid that I can't agree with your assessment of the craft, but if it works for you, run with it.

David said...

Acting is transgression because through acting you say and do things that otherwise don't get said and done. On stage, behavior is more unadorned than in real life, more to the point, more about getting what you want no matter if you deserve it or not. The usual social codes are exploded, etc., etc., yada, yada. It's not a tough idea.

Kenichi said...

Acting is transgression because through acting you say and do things that otherwise don't get said and done.

Not to pick a fight, David, but how is this supposed to be true? If you're portraying your character's life, you are saying and doing things that do get said and done in their world. Acting is advocacy--it's not about what you would say or do in your life.

David said...


You are being pompous and and overly literal. Stop it.

And, when a guy says "not to pick a fight," he's doing just that. It's text book passive aggressive. Again, stop it.

Kenichi said...


I wasn't trying to pick a fight, only attempting to engage you in a discussion regarding a topic rather near and dear to my heart. Trust me, there's nothing passive about my aggression when I do decide to unleash it. Much like, say, when you accuse someone of being pompous. But, returning to the original comment at hand, I don't agree that "transgression" is acting. If it's a philosophy that works for you and allows you to channel your performance with clarity and commitment, then more power to you. The beauty of the craft is that it is not solid and permanently defined. You and I will most likely never approach the same character in the same manner. And that's a good thing, don't you think?

David Loftus said...

I think maybe part of Kenichi's point is that what would be transgressive in your or my life, is not necessarily transgressive in the life of the character, within the context of the play. The behavior may be precisely what it called for, in that context. So what is "transgressive" kind of depends on which players, which context, you're addressing. (It's an interesting question, because I automatically think of the role I'm currently doing, and I have to admit that what really puts my character over for my audience is precisely a transgressive act, both in the context of the play's story and -- I guess -- for me as a person, although I often commit mildly transgressive acts in public.)

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna have to agree with kenichi, more or less. And, David, you can't accuse someone of being overly literal when you've defined the craft in such a definitive way: "acting is transgression." That's just not fair.

Also, I think acting is necessarily something one must personally define. Overarching generalities just don't apply. So: as was said before, if it works for you, go with it. But please don't expect everyone to just agree with your assessment.

In terms of the second paragraph here, I don't think the Vanya thread has anything to do with what you said-- followspot brought it up first. So consider yourself absolved of that. ;-)