I’m constantly amazed by what a good group we’ve assembled for this show. I’ve got a huge mix of people with lots of experience, and people with almost none, and they’re working very well together.
I’ve heard from several people now that they’re still panicked about not having a script yet, so I gave another talk tonight, emphasizing that I’m not fiddling while Rome burns, but that even if we were working from a finished script, I’d rather not have given it to them at this point anyway. I don’t want people memorizing lines yet. This is a play, and we need to learn how to play together.
I would rather have a show with a few line flubs, where the actors know who they are, and what they’re doing, and what’s happening next, and in which they totally have bought in the world of the play, than a show in which people have memorized lines and are just marking things through. I think, if compared side-by-side, this is what an audience would prefer as well.
After having said that, we continued the tactics/objectives work we started yesterday, and then moved into a Meisner exercise, courtesy of Jon Reimer (who teaches this stuff: http://tokyoplayers.org/?lang=1&page=58&mode=detail&event=38 If you’re in Tokyo, take his classes!), which deals with truth in acting.
I think his exercises clearly showed the idea that in truthful acting, emotion is a by-product of action. (And yes! This even applies to “stylized” acting, which is the same as “normal” acting, except that the rules of the world are different!) This is really important to the framing section of our play (called the “1941 section”), because we’re striving for naturalism (although, of course, the stakes are high enough that people can be reasonably big without blowing the audience’s acceptance of the situation), and really don’t want to end up with anything that looks like self-conscious acting… or what my first acting teacher called “shmackting”.
Actually, that whole attitude is summed up by a story told to me by the great and intense Canadian director Paul Lambert. I may get details of this wrong, but the point is the same:
One night, a relatively famous director who was guesting at the National Theatre School was holding court in a bar. All the young acting students were there asking him question after question. After a long evening of this, and a perhaps particularly obtuse question from a first year, the director took a drag on his cigarette, and a sip from his full-to-the-brim pint of Carlsberg. After he put the glass down, after seeming to consider the whole evening worth of questions, he said simply: “Just be there. Fuck!”
Best advice for actors I’ve ever heard. I wish this was my story.
Just be there. Fuck
I believe that all the actors I’ve assembled for this show can be there.
Damn! This show is going to be fantastic!