Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Brief Cogitation

I'm about to go down to the theatre for call for the opening of our spring show, You Can't Take It With You. And I was thinking...which is always dangerous, to be sure.

I don't talk about theatre much on this blog. Or on any blog, for that matter, because this is the only blog I keep. For whatever reason, I just haven't unveiled a whole bunch of my theatre soul in this forum--and as anyone who knows me well can affirm, my theatre soul is a large part of who I am.

I don't know why I don't Pontificate about theatre. Maybe it's too close to my heart, too ingrained within my psyche, for me to really open up about it. Hmph. Mysterious.

I've come a long way, you know. My love for literature actually interested me in theatre; my first-ever audition was for Principles of Directing--their Shakespeare scenes. I saw the audition notices, and I was intrigued. The rest, I suppose, is very recent history.

A lot of what I've done, what I've accomplished, hasn't been from innate talent--any sort of Gift for this sort of thing. Every single one of my characters has been the result of sweat, usually tears, and often some blood, in varying quantities. (It's always my own blood, though.) I can't say all of my characters have been successes--Dr. Rank from A Doll's House, for instance, was horrible, Will Rogers wasn't my finest hour, and the Red King was kinda meh.

But I can say that, whether or not I make logical, wise character decisions, that I've never mailed in a performance. I've never given up on a character. I've always kept at it, sometimes to the detriment of my associates. 

See, I'm coming to the conclusion that what makes a great actor or actress is not his or her talent, or voice, or physical control. Success in theatre is all about working your butt off and then working some more. Commitment is all very well; intellect is all very well; risk-taking is vital, and so is creativity. But without a good work ethic, success in acting is very rare.

There are people, I suppose, to whom character and movement and all the rest come naturally. I've never met one of them. All of the great actors and actresses I know--and I do know, to varying degrees, some pretty incredible actors and actresses--are the ones who will do the work to make their characters live. The success stories are the ones who've worked hardest.

I know a fellow named Jason who is quite possibly one of the best male actors I've ever seen perform. He was in community theatre, and I had the privilege to work with him on two shows before he moved to Egypt. He worked harder than anyone I've ever seen before, and his characters were inevitably excellent--superlative. Jason isn't superhuman--he's not gifted with the power to pull a believable, sympathetic character out of nowhere. He works, and that's how he succeeds.

I have to leave for call in five minutes.

Long live diligents and diligence!

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