Thursday, August 6, 2009

Satisfactory Service 8/06/09

I played it right because that's what you're supposed to do - play it right and with respect.

Ryne Sandberg
Smile, you're on Candid Journal.
"Jus' 'cause it ain't by Shakespeare don't mean it ain't no good."

I used to do public readings of new plays for a playwright's workshop way over on the East Side of Manhattan. One evening I read a major role in a political drama. A year later the playwright called and asked if I would come back and read it again. I did, and before the reading she said to the audience "A playwright is one who if she changes a line from 'I want to meet with you' to 'It's important that I meet with you' that is a major rewriting of the play and therefore needs to be read again. She was half joking, but she made a valid point about how important the lines are to the playwright and the play. They need to be respected.

I was doing the role of Cassio in Shakespeare's "Othello" at a theatre in New England. After one of our late rehearsals, close to opening, the stage manager, who was a nice, polite, benign fellow, came up to me with a sheet of paper and said "I thought you should see the difference between the way you are speaking the speech to Desdamona and the way Shakespeare wrote it." I was stunned. I had almost completely rewritten that speech.

That was early in my career, but from that day on I have always made sure that I spoke the lines the way they were written. That's called playing it right and with respect.

It's not just the lines that need to be played right. I saw a production of Sophocles' "Electra," In that play Electra's brother Orestes enters with a friend, Pylades. Sophocles has given no lines to Pylades. It is a completely silent role. But he is on stage with Orestes the entire time. I watched an actor named Maurice Breslau play that role and if I didn't know that he had no lines I would have sworn he spoke. He was mentally, emotionally and physically involved in every moment of that play. That's playing it right and with respect.

I did many original plays while I was with the Circle Rep Lab in New York. There were excellent actors in that Lab. We were professional, working actors. It was a great challenge and an invigorating experience to take on the problems of a new play and solve them. The playwrights were usually around and had a hand in rewriting if they felt they needed to. But we played them right and with respect.

Some actors and directors think nothing of messing around with a script, rewriting things, cutting things and rearranging the scenes, adding characters and dropping characters. That's not playing it right. Playwrights worry over every line. They should be respected.

I was in a show in New York in which the leading actor got the same line wrong every night. He bungled it because he didn't know what it was and he never went back to the script to find out. He will remain nameless. He was a famous actor, but he was a lazy bum.

Whatever you do, do it right and with respect.

DB - The Vagabond
Grasp some joy today and don't let go of it.
This is not a contest.

A young man out west just took home 88 million dollars from the lottery.

Whether you play the lottery or not, if you suddenly had 88 million dollars, or the equivalent of whatever your currency is, what are the first three things you would do with it?

You have all summer to answer if you wish.

19 responses so far.


Thus on the edge a screwed up miss is egotistical. (9)


Dannelle said...

Whatever you do, do it right and with respect.
Good advice but sometimes...!!!

Beth said...

Definitely good advice. I would think that since a play is the creation of the playwright, they deserve the respect of not changing their "baby." Hugs, Beth