Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Actor's Conundrum

On 9/17/09, I will opening in a play that I hate. No, maybe hate is too strong a word. Dislike, is probably better. I have been in one other play by this author, and it still ranks among my Top 10 Favorite Roles (that post soon, I promise).

But this is a very different sort of play; exceptionally specific in setting, form, style and period. My character serves as essentially a Greek Chorus, something which in Greek theatre is played very differently than in modern drama. Unlike most characters in modern drama, the Chorus is simply there to impart the tale and comment on why you should heed it's lessons. He wants nothing more or less and achieves that goal simply by doing what he does. In most modern dramas, any given character wants a specific goal, but has to find a way to achieve it.

I also have problems with reconciling my own point of view with the play's, probably because I don't understand the kind of person who doesn't understand what the phrase "a life unexamined" means.

The director is one of my dearest friends, and she knows about my concerns. As does my longest (chronologically - not dimensionally), sweetest friend and fellow cast-member, both of whom are doing their best to help me through this weird disconnect I seem to be having.

Honestly, I think it boils down to my dislike of the piece, itself. Not everyone likes everything and not every work of art resonates with every person.

As for the acting part... there are many theories and styles of acting. I (as do many of my friends and fellow actors) am what you call a "combination" actor. Combination actors tend to pick and choose among the varying schools of thought, employing whatever seems appropriate for the play, character and scene. At this point, I am unable to do that, and am solely relying on just one acting style to get me through. And while there is nothing wrong with doing so (the great Olivier was only and ever a "classically" trained technical actor), for me it seems a cheat. The last time I relied solely on technique to see me through a show was a piece I disliked even more than this. For me, it feels forced. It's reaching down into the bag of tricks and pulling out the same tired rabbit we've all seen before. And, truth be told, that's not fun - just easy. And there's nothing worse for an actor than easy. For one, it makes learning lines pure hell.

I can only hope a gayngel will rescue me and tell how to make this work.

Sorry to bitch, but isn't that 99% of blogging, anyway?

More, anon.


Stephen said...

& you can't name the piece.
That sounds like a hard one... even the Stage Manager in Our Town is filled with character possibities.

What were your top 5 favorite roles?

Prospero said...

Sure. It's Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge." Top Ten Favorite Roles coming very soon...