Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Enjoy It

After you've done all the work and prepared as much as you can, what the hell, you might as well go out and have a good time.

Benny Goodman
My friend Marty (remember him?), who's doing fine by the way, sent me a quote this morning from an unknown source which says "Do something you love and you'll never have to do a day’s work in your life."

Some directors have a habit of telling the actors just before opening night to go out and "have fun with it." I don't know why they say that unless it's an attempt at offering an antidote to the struggles of rehearsal and preparation. Otherwise it's an unnecessary remark. If course we will have fun with it. If we didn't enjoy it we wouldn't be doing it. It's too difficult.

About ten years ago Ed Earle and I were doing a play in which we were the two main characters. During a break in rehearsal one of the designers came up to us to compliment us on being so good and so funny. I said to him if he thought we were good in rehearsal "wait until you see us in front of an audience."

The purpose of "all the work" that Goodman talks of is to be as entertaining as possible when the audience comes. I don't think there is a single musician who can just pick up his instrument, walk out on stage and play it brilliantly without preparation, without tuning it, warming it up and himself. Benny Goodman may get to a point in performance where his clarinet plays itself, but not without a lot of preparation.

An actor must know many things before opening night. He must know the lines so well he doesn't have to think of them. That takes hours of tedious work and is the biggest pit for an unprepared actor to fall into. He must know the story and his place in it. He must know where he is both on stage and off. He must know how to work as an ensemble player with the other actors. There are some well known actors who never achieve that knowledge, and it shows. He must know how to perform his role with all of its details and subtleties. The accent in Benny Goodman's remark is on the work and preparation as well as on the good time. The only times I have seen an actor suffer during a performance was when he was unprepared and his lock of knowledge of one of the things I just mentioned caught up with him.

My friend David came to see me perform in a play only once. He went out with the cast for a beer afterwards and jokingly said "I don't know how much they're paying you, but it's too much, because you're having too much fun."

What the hell, you might as well.


Weekend Contest
This contest is open for the next 5 days.

Choose as many numbers as you want and fill in the blanks
Winners will be posted on the evening of April 4.
The decisions of the nasty biased judge are final. Prizes will awarded on the basis of originality and whatever makes me laugh.


On the first day of April my true love gave to me

Good luck


Bonnie Bonsai said...

The kids abandon academics in pursuit of acting. Little did they know that acting as profession takes a load of memorizing and studying the roles an actor plays. I hope they will read this blog so they will know and understand.

(And I hope I am not going to have problem in posting this comment. Fingers cross. Thanks DB for the visit. My daughter is getting close to her due. And am going to be a Grandma in few days time).

Hope you are well.

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

When it becomes fun, it becomes more than just a job. A career or profession is born.

Liz said...

I cannot imagine the stress an actor undergoes when they attempt to act out the truth of the words written by someone who cannot be present.
They must listen to a director yet the author must silently cry for recognition to any who have the ability to hear and translate the words into an action so that all may see.

Gerry said...

I always thought it would be paradise to make a living in the theater, but I believe in destiny, so I had to figure out what else I could do that would satisfy if that was not going to be the case. I could just get as close to it as I could, which I did. Raymond, my son, had more stamina, so he has done more with theater than I was ever able to do, but I still had a lot of fun encouraging him and making sure I supported what he and other wannabe playwrights did manage to create. I was thinking last night as we gathered out in the patio now it has turned warm enough, maybe I could get them doing a play, then I thought Whoa, that's not going to work, just do living drama, so Doc joked we were doing the Algonquin round table of nut cases. I said, yeah the bipolars, the aging dementia crowd, falsely diagnosed like me, falsely disabled as nuts, mr. suppressed, mr. antsy pantsy, and resident alcoholic. It's sometimes hard to lead a discussion somewhere when the crowd is mixed insanity. That's a challenge!