Friday, January 16, 2009

Now, say it like you're sad.

Now that we've ditched 'the books', as they sometimes say - that is, the actors have gotten scripts out of their hands, and are solid on their lines, I've been mesmerized by the acting process in this show. Maybe because I'm trying to become more aware of artistic process in general, I'm not sure.

The whole idea of 'motivation' especially, is fascinating to me, in the sense that it completely changes a person's expression, quality of voice, posture and so on. I know it sounds obvious, but the more I consciously observe and even write about this profession, the more I appreciate it.

There are basic ideas. 'Now do it like you're happy. Now Sad. Now angry - go.' Louder, faster, funnier. 'Now, do it as if you're in love with this person.' 'Now, do it as if you had alcoholic parents and nothing you ever did was good enough.' And they can do it, and I'm amazed. I'm completely impressed by the acting I've seen in this show so far. There's always more digging to do, but as far as taking direction, making choices, displaying emotions... it's all there to read.

We all used to play pretend, right? It's just a more sophisticated form of that. Pretending, motivation, assumption. We used to forewarn and direct each other (at least, my sister and friends and I did): "Okay, now you'll steal our things, and then we'll get mad, okay?" Young directors in the making?

To watch someone completely change the way they've been playing a scene in moments (sometimes seconds) without much time to ponder - it's beautiful, it's impressive. I've seen it several instances during this rehearsal process, and there's something to relish in it, like watching a painter bring an image together, or paint over, or do something completely surprising that makes absolute sense, in the end. (In a more metaphysical sense it makes me think...if we can play imaginary people and make up what they're feeling, every second, and why they say what they say - doesn't that show how much control we actually have over ourselves and our lives?)

But we're speaking of acting, now. I commend you all. To study the scope of human experience and emotion and then portray it - what an enormous task. It begins small, though. People often ask writers such questions as: Since you're a man, do you find it difficult to write women? Or vice versa. Children. The elderly. But saying that, you immediately separate yourself from the rest of humankind. You have only to draw on your own understanding of human emotion, the experience of a particular person or character, and some empathy. It's simple . It really is simple - though it might not be easy, until you wrap your mind around it.

There are technical details to consider, details that take training, talent and intelligence. But the base of it lies in human experience, doesn't it? Just knowing how to be happy, and look happy, or sad, or angry. We all do that a lot. So - why not now? When you're done reading this, go enjoy the daylights out of the rest of your experience today.

Even if it's a hard day... just do it like you're happy. Go.


LIZZIE said...

Okay. I'm going. Enjoyed this posting.

Monica said...

Actors--they are the key ingredient, the pivotal means upon which a show is based. They stand at the precipice of a shows' success or failure. Audiences and critics usually don't judge a production's hit or misses upon whether or not the scenic painter "nailed" the highlight detail on the crown molding. No, the success is on the actors' shoulders. Their job is difficult, admirable and brilliant!

bondgal_rulz said...

Nice post.