Friday, September 17, 2004

Getting into the Part, into the Mind of the Role

::And I've been doing this "strange" thing, and I've been doing that "strange" thing.

::It's almost as though I'm an actor getting mentally prepared for a new role.

So that's what I've been doing? For so long? And not being aware of it until now? A role that seems so big and challenging that donning the costume was never going to be enough?

And into the shoes and stomach and eyes and loins and hands and selfish pleasures of the character.

The costume was never going to be enough. But how does the actor know when he has grasped the essence of the role he must assume? When are you ready?

This is what they call character study, isn't it? I haven't been systematically studying the character and therefore cannot be ready. And I don't want any surprises this time. But why? Some actors say they learn more and more about the character every time they play the role. You can never learn it all before you play it.

Surprises will happen and that's what I must learn to expect. When they happen, I must recognize them as such. I know I'm not clever enough to understand them, figure out the best solution and
assimilate them into history all in the space of two blinks. So what can I do? Put them on Hold, definitely. Accompany this with a Pretence to Ignore, a Masquerade, or a Stock Delaying
Tactic. Or if somebody else is around who is cleverer, I could also pass the buck and be a watchful supporter.

So I can do more character study, and I can handle surprises. But is this role worth playing? Why do I want so much to play it? A part that has taken so much, and returned so little, so far. For we who have only the world as a stage, indulge ourselves more selfishly than they who are paid by the hour to play someone else's script.

I know that I have not the gift that natural born actors have, whereupon their entire souls and beings can instantaneously flow into the heart and mind of another. But I also know that I am not so impoverished that even under the pain of death I am blinded and ignorant of how it must be to be like another person.

And so this quality, this Actor's Gift, is something I possess in only average quantity. And thus it offers me more challenge than the other (but few) gifts I do have. Like someone who still wants to play football on a Sunday and score, even though they know they will never play professionally.

So maybe there is a solid reason to only play on a Sunday.

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