Sunday, February 26, 2012
The Back Up Singers
“The greatest wisdom is to realize one's lack of it” - Constantin Stanislavski
This week’s dream:
I’m not sure if this is a ‘dream’ per-se, but I was thinking a lot this week about that thing people say about how in the arts you need to be fully committed to what your doing. Committed in the sense of, “If you are willing to do something other than your art for work, you won’t be as successful as you could be in that art.” I’m not sure I buy that as an actor. I think the more diverse my life is, the more I can bring to the art. Look at Donald Glover! That guy does so much! This week, I dreamed about keeping my identity as a renaissance man.
What did I “DO” this week?
I say a show yesterday. I signed up for some auditions for shows in the late spring and for some summer stock theatre. I set up a game plan for getting an agent with in the month. On an ECO note, I got a bus pass! No commuting to work by car for the month of March!
What a mean trick I pulled last week! I mentioned my future-not-yet-scheduled skiing trip with Johnny Depp on my facebook post and I got more hits on that blog post in a day than any of the other posts got ever! Maybe I should always mention celebrities in this! But, seriously, that trip’s gonna happen—I’ll let you know when we finally schedule it. After all, Depp and I are both busy men, he is terrible at picking up his phone, and I don’t like texting back and forth.
I’ve been performing in a great kid’s show for about a month now. I’m a supporting character in the show—most of us are. Something that I’ve started noticing about my performance and the dangers of kid’s theatre and extended show runs is that I am tempted to cheat my audience out of my best performance.
This comes in two forms: First, I am tempted to wait for my cue. Second, I am tempted to let outside influences affect my show.
What do I mean by waiting for my cue? I’ll give an example. In the show’s script, one character is listing all these things he does in his life as a kid. The pirates listen to this, and at the end of the list the boy mentions that he plays soccer. The pirates all speak in unison, “Arg…Soccer?” That’s what’s written. But, is it all that is happening on stage.
If I’m doing my job right, I should have an opinion about absolutely everything that goes on within the world of the play while I’m on stage. This doesn’t mean that I have to make vocal ad-libs that are not in the script. I should at the very least have a thought.
A supporting actor, if he/she is truly professional, will be focused enough to give themselves wholly to the world of the play and to their character’s opinions about that world. It shouldn’t matter if the play is a Tony winner or the crappiest script ever. I believe that doing this one thing could bring an actor un-told success in this business because the audience will look at that character and see the full story—and they will love you for it. If done right, you won’t have to worry about pulling focus either. (I think a blank face in an actor on stage pulls my focus as an audience member more than anything)
About the second thing: I think one of the cruelest disservices I can do to the audience is to bring my outside day onto the stage with me. We actors love to commiserate back stage. We LOVE to share the things that make our lives suck the most. When one actor enters the dressing room and announces that they woke up with some phlegm in their throat, the flock gathers to agree that there must surely be some new illness floating around.
Imagine how good our shows would be if we refused to commiserate: if we let go of our fetish for sickness and instead we couldn’t shut up about how awesome our world is. After all, our world IS awesome. Our job is SO COOL!!! So, stop whining!