Thursday, October 22, 2009

Going on a journey to a very dark place

Hadley Freeman in The Guardian has a laugh at the pretentious way that many actors talk about their "craft."

It's a good reminder that language ought to be kept simple and direct. (We're supposed to be truth-tellers, after all.)

Bobo has a friend who decided long ago that acting wasn't all that difficult: Given moderate intelligence and a reasonable amount of emotional accessibility, you can more or less impersonate anyone. We see it all the time in indie films and in community theater. To do it well is a rare gift -- but to be able to do it adequately, lots of us can get by. 

I myself have so many self-effacing mannerisms ("I'm sorry," lowered eyes, nervous movements, gotta-make-my-point-so-I'll-overact) that I'm a long way from having stage charisma -- so it's fascinating to watch actors who clearly gather up audiences in their arms and give them big emotional hugs. Can't-take-your-eyes-off-them watchability -- that's rare. Watching those actors "work" -- that's a journey worth taking. (And why is it that we overuse the verb "work"? Out of self-consciousness that it's really, after all, play -- and not actually that difficult?)

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At October 23, 2009 11:17 PM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

I just read yesterday that along about when the Group Theatre disbanded in 1941 and later blended into the Actors Studio, it was fashionable for Method actors to refer to "The Work." Does anyone know if that's the origin of today's cliches like "I've never worked with him" and "The work is sacred"? Because I always thought it was actors reversing the meaning of "play," and also trying to give respectability to an avocation and profession that, say, stock brokers tend to look down upon as anything but "work." Sort of like the way the humanities took on all kinds of rigor and scientific methodology and jargon when it became clear, in the last half century, that the sci-tech guys were making actual discoveries that would save and improve lives, whereas English professors were, you know, counting up the number of flower-and-herb metaphors in Shakespeare's late romances. (I know I sure was. And damned hard work it was. Crucial, too. Life-altering.)


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