Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Miracle Management 12/23/08

Blessed be the poet, the artist who knows how to keep alive his sense of wonder.

Ella Maillart

An actor is one who observes other people all the time, not critically nor judgementaly, but with curiosity. We observe how someone stands, sits and walks. We notice, movements, gestures and facial expressions, actions and reactions. We listen to the voice. Hear tones, pauses, stresses and breath. Those things can tell a story about people. We are trying to read the story so that we can tell a similar story on the stage.

Human beings are endlessly fascinating creatures to observe. There is hardly anything in the universe that is more complicated and in greater variety than the human race.

One of the reasons why we observe people so carefully is just because on the stage nothing is done in general. Everything is specific. There is no such thing as reacting to a rain storm in general. It's how my character reacts to it that matters. And that starts with a sense of wonder. I wonder what this man is really like, this man who depends upon me to give him life?

I was doing an Off-Broadway show years ago, the story took place in a New York City apartment. In one scene I had to look out the window at the weather and see that it was raining. I knew that there were other buildings partially blocking my view so I took that into consideration. My character was hoping to get on a flight out of town and was worried that the rain would interfere with his plans. It was one very short moment in the play.

An actor friend, who had every right to be critical of my performance, came to see it. He enjoyed it and he made mention of that moment and how completely believable it was. "I saw you looking up at that gray and rainy sky and I knew exactly what you were feeling." The fact is the window was right up against the bare wall of the theatre. There was nothing to see out of it. I simply said if I was looking out of an apartment building window at the rain, I wonder what it would look like? I invented it in my own imagination, believed in it and made it come alive.

Describe a storm. The poet writes it, the painter paints it, the actor plays it.



Beth said...

I think most of us love to people-watch. I'm looking forward to a few days in Vegas, because among other things, I think it is the Mecca of people-watching!

Hugs, Beth

Dannelle said...

"Be the Storm"- I just want this storm to go away! Yes, observation is key in many forms, people watching can be a pastime, a sport, it even pays sometimes! I do wonder with amazement at the variety of the subject- there is no boredom there! Dannelle

Linda's World said...

The first thing I did this morning when I opened the blinds was to look up at the sky. And I watch people wherever I go. I chuckled at Bob last night...we were in the grocery store, yes I had my list in my hand & I was on a mission. But I saw some of the most weird behavior by some people. At one point I said to him.."did you see that?" His answer "did I see what?" He's not a people watcher. Still cold here~more snow expected Wednesday. Linda in WA
P.S. your country Neo Counter continues to grow. Mine picked up one from Iran the other day

a corgi said...

I liked how you wrote this DB; I could see you acting out that part as you were wondering if the rain would affect your flight

people watching is my favorite thing to do; often my hubby and me will buy a coffee and plant ourselves some place and just watch people go by; always entertaining


Lisa said...

I watch people closely all the time, even family. I am usually the quiet one sitting back watching what everyone else is doing. You can learn so much about a person just by watching them - I don't even need to hear their words.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2009.

Breezy said...

People watching is fun, and interesting. Seeing how they react to each other, or to circumstances. Like when you are waiting in a long line for something.. listening to their conversations, as to whether they are positive, or angry about the wait.. You really get an idea of their personality. Even if you don't hear them talk you can see the expressions on their faces or their body language and get an idea of the mood they are in.