Sunday, July 12, 2009

But if that is what you want, the words are wrong?

-But isn't that in total contradiction to what the character says? The way the character says it?

-Characters like people are sometimes untrue to the words come out of their mouths. And even as they strive to be one thing, speak to that one thing, the character doesn't succeed. Emotion and desire make all sorts of hairpin turns around obstacles unexpected. So that even though they are speaking to the desire a moment a ago, swelling inside them is actually the makings of a very different desire.

-Are we are asking the actor to be two things are once?

-No, we are asking the character to attempt one thing, fail... and by failing, achieve a second seemingly contradictory thing. This sort of thing happens in life all the time. We say one thing expecting it to sound strong, but rather we end up exposing our weakness. The words we speak sometimes fail as indicators of what the moment actually is.

(And perhaps this might be why I fail as a playwright, solely a playwright... I trust that the situation will illuminate the inherit contradiction... because when I directed... I thought that was happening... but what really happened was that I was finishing the text in rehearsal room right there with the actors... using their voices and their bodies to hammer out the final keystrokes that would become the final draft ultimately)

1 comment:

Paul Rekk said...

I don't think that this has anything to do with what you are saying, but it made me think of it nonetheless.

One of the most interesting things to me as both an actor and a director is how often people take every line on the page at face value. There is this unacknowledged idea that, unless you are specifically told otherwise, either by stage directions or circumstances, that characters tell the truth at all times.

There have been a number of times that I have been in a rehearsal setting and listened to another actor have a conversation with the director trying to discern the reasoning behind a particularly contradictory line or set of lines.

A lot of times I just want to barge in with "Maybe they're just making shit up..." (Of course, I'm faaar too tactful to do so. Faaar too tactful.) People lie all the time, sometimes for absolutely no reason at all, just for the sake of telling a lie. I like to see characters do that, too.