Oct 5 – Introducing the Characters…
I don’t have a lot of experience with actors. I have only done one play and that was with fellow students. Most of the people in my classes are either beginners like myself, or are people who are picking acting back up after a long break from their college days. I think I have only had one or two professional actors in class. That’s not including my teachers of course, who are all professional actors and really good teachers as well.
So really, my experience is with student actors. I have had enough classes now to start seeing the first forms of acting student archetypes coalescing from the murk. There is the diva-in-training, the meticulous, the cliff-hanger, and the processor. I am sure that there are more than that, and I might change my ideas about some of these as time goes on, and I get more exposure, but for right now this will do.
I think that these types are probably in any type of class, but in a more standard academic environment I don’t think the individual charactersitics of the various types are given full opportunity to be expressed.
Lets start with the divas-in-training
I have only had two of these so far in my classes, and coincidently in the same class. I noticed that both of these individuals had (what seemed to me anyway) a rather strong fantasy about acting. They wanted to be Actors. Famous Actors. Their eyes were firmly fixed way on down that yellow brick road to the gleaming emerald spires.
Let’s call them Eunice and Prudence to protect their identities.
Eunice had a plan. She was going to do A, B, C, etc. and then she would Make It. Listening to Eunice talk was like listening to a corporate meeting, where the hostile takeover of a rival company was being planned. Acting/theater/film was referred to as “this industry.” I could see the PowerPoint presentation floating above her head. “As you can see from the first bullet point…”
I didn’t hear any talk of art, passion, creativity, or fun for that matter. Not that art, passion, creativity, or fun need to be discussed directly, because I don’t spend a lot of time going on about them myself, but I didn’t get any sense of them bubbling under the surface. I suspect they are in there somewhere, but they have been buried under the gears and motors of the Acting Dream Machine ™.
The staging of our particular play Fefu and Her Friends, by Maria Irene Fornes, was unusual in that it requires some scenes to be performed on four different stages simultaneously, while the audience moves from one stage to another. Each scene ends up being performed four times consecutively.
We actually only had two performance spaces to use, so each space would have two scenes performing in it, repeated twice. Eunice’s scene was to be in the smaller performance space instead of the main stage. This would not do. She harassed the instructor/director, who repeatedly said no, this is the what the playwright intended. Then Eunice went to the head of the school, and persuaded them (i.e. badgered them until they said fuck it) to let her scene be on the main stage. We ended up doing the whole play in the main stage. I think it all turned out fine in the end, but I could see the where the little diva-sprout, breaking up through the soil, was heading.
Prudence was different, she didn’t charge ahead with economic fervor. She floated in, hair immaculately in place, clothes fashionably fashionable. At first she seemed reserved yet participatory, and made some good comments in discussions. She had actually arrived on the scene after a handful of classes had already passed, and seemed on her way to catching up with the rest of us.
We were excited she was there as we were one person short, and were about ready to cast our roles. She ended up getting one of the smaller parts (and a lesbian one at that, which I heard freaked her out though she tried to play it cool). Then she started showing up late, or not at all. Always with a valid excuse mind you. Father in the hospital, baby sick. But when she was there, she spent a fair amount of time texting on her phone, or radiating that she rather be somewhere else. In the end she pulled it together, learned her lines, and performed, but again I didn’t see any fun or enjoyment in it.
This being my first time doing a play, it became obvious to me that it is a team sport. Not that we can’t have our personal moment of glory, and every team has its star player, but we are all on the same team, trying for the same goal. It then also becomes obvious when someone is not being a team player. There is no “I” in team as they say.
I think it is OK to be driven to succeed, or “make it”, to become famous , or whatever you want to call it. Don’t get me wrong; I have my acting fantasy life too. I want to be a regular character on a sci-fi television show. There I’ve said it.
Will this happen? I have no idea. Right now I am not a very good actor (or even a good actor), and I am also not incredibly good looking. I think you need to have at least one of those things to rise up the ladder . But on my way to becoming a very good actor (can’t do much about the looks) , I am going to try and have as much fun as possible, and hopefully be a person where people say, “She’s fun to work with.”
Next time, the cliff-hanger…