Thursday, September 25, 2008

Obstacle as Crutch

I think we're beginning to warm in to the year--at last.  In Acting class today, the scene coaching got heated, as actors grew frustrated and the coach--Jack--pressed firmly with sharply-worded notes, not all of which were new.  I got down right pissy, in my frustration at not being able to take one particular note, which was about taking a line to the right scene partner--the 'abstract' being "Death," not visible on stage--rather than to the wrong one (for the line), the alluring Juliet, on the bed just stage right of me.  Of course, when I finally took the damned note, and felt the rightness of the change, I cooled down.  While  my classmates were changing the set for the next scene, I said to Jack "I felt as if I had to allow myself to get pissy," by way of semi-apology, and he just shrugged, a gesture which meant, "that's the work, man--of course we get pissy."

One 'take-away' I got from today's class (and this is the last time you will ever read that kind of crap-corporate neologism uttered by me; I'm using it just so I may have the satisfaction of whining about it) is that while having a clear obstacle grounds me, I also tend too frequently to play the obstacle as a way of avoiding the risk of playing the action--which is to say, avoiding the risk of being the actor who drives the scene, which is the risk of being the protagonist.   I most definitely need to play actions with built-in obstacles, but it does the play no good if I forget my actions entirely.  I need to play the whole chord, not just an over-tone to a missing base note.  From the audience, when an actor 'forgets' his action it reads as a slackening of dramatic tension, or as a break in character, or as something just icky and wrong.

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