Sunday, December 6, 2009

Violent Virtue

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London
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A work of art is a dangerous jungle beast which has been tamed. Not only was the beast strong and threatening, it was also treacherous, tricky, secretive and capable of setting traps for the poor unsuspecting artist. And thus the artist has to be very careful when entering the wilderness of ideas.

I knew an actor who, when the first reading of a play came with all the actors, offered nothing of himself to it. In the most dramatic parts of the play he wouldn't even raise his voice. No doubt it was his technique for avoiding the false steps into the role, but it was unnecessary caution and disrespectful of the other actors, in my opinion.

On the other hand there are some actors who try to give a full performance at the first reading. That is also detrimental. I admit to having had that fault myself in my younger years. In time I learned how fruitless it was, I only had to start over again once I was in rehearsal.

Another problem is with directors. Some directors will read a play once and think they know how to direct it. Directors who do that fall right into one of the pits the beast has set for them and are dragging the actors down with them. If an architect tried to building a building that way it would collapse.

One year I did a play with a well known actor who stumbled over one of his lines in every single performance. I thought: Why doesn't the self-important lazy bum go back to his script and get the line right instead of making a mumbled mess out of it every time? He never did.

We should always be careful, precise and complete in what we do. If an artist is sloppy, careless and undisciplined the beast will sneak up behind and tear his work into shreds.

To work well is to focus clearly, seek out and follow the right trail, expect light from strange places, find energy from hidden sources, grasp the silent jewels that flit past, be aware of the work's insistence on its own being and one day the savage beast will show up benign, tamed and ready to enlighten the world.

DB

3 comments:

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Being precise and careful is good advice no matter what field one is in, or what one does in life. It takes to much energy for do-overs :o)

Being and Quirkiness said...

Practice makes perfect, it seems :)

salemslot9 said...

who was the well known actor?
sorry, I had to ask...
you don't have to tell me