Friday, March 16, 2007

Actors suck

Talking to an acquaintance this morning on the train platform, she told me she had been invited to see a play and, wrinkling her nose, she said she declined. Surprised, because I know she is, shall we say, a patron of the arts, I asked her what she didn’t like about the theater. You people, she said, laughing and jabbing me on the shoulder.

Yes, I admit, a lot of theater people suck. And I told her that. I also told her that there are a lot of hard-working people in the theater who feel the same way she does. Actors in particular, can always be “on.” As a matter of fact, it is actors we’re talking about here. The techies are some of the most serious, talented people in the theater. I’ve always said that the real talent lies in the tech and the direction. So yes, some actors can be extraordinarily selfish, self-indulgent, and desperately crying to be noticed and it is more than annoying and pathetic, it can get in the way of a good work.

But here’s the thing: it’s been my experience that it’s the bad actors, the ones with the least amount of talent, who act that way. The hard-working actors, who take their craft seriously, are too busy working and honing their talent to act like jerks. They’re the ones who are busy exploring life, and bringing what they learn in life to the stage.

Acting is truth. And to get to the truth, you have to suppress the ego. That takes a very brave and talented person. You have to be both, and all that flamboyant posing is simply a waste of time.

Right now I’m working with an actress from my Meisner class. We meet a couple of times a week plus class. She’s the mother of two teenagers, about the same age as my two girls, and I have yet to see a moment of this theater crap. She has a laser eye for the truth and an incredible desire to get to it. She doesn’t, nor do I, have time any for nonsense. We’re too busy trying to get better.

1 comment:

patrick ortman said...

You NAILED it. Acting- good acting- requires a real sense of humility and vulnerability to both the material and the actor's environment.

Bad acting is selfish, self-involved, childish, and boorish. It hurts to watch.

Selfishness has no place on the stage or screen.

Have you ever noticed that one of the highest compliments an actor makes about another is he/she was generous towards them? There's a bravery in generosity. It's something I'm striving for as I grow as a person, and as a director.

I've been very lucky to work with some good actors. And, like any director, unlucky enough to work with a few very, very bad ones.

I love actors, especially the ones willing to dig a bit and go to that open place. When they do, it's my job to collaborate and to protect them. And when they don't, I try my best to pull them into the reality of the scene and out of themselves.

I don't know why I'm writing all this, except that I am reflecting on my latest project. Nice to meet you, Bob.


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