Sunday, August 1, 2010

CONNECT with the words

Good rehearsal tonight--enjoyed a nice lingering afterglow and gathered some momentum from the last 'over-acting' rehearsal.

The direction to go over the top really blew out the cobwebs and has freed me up to be bolder, follow impulses and really clarify my point of view. The director really likes what I'm doing--I'm no judge of myself, in any event. (it's very, very rare when I'm pleased with my work.) Some of what I'm doing feels right, and some of it feels like I'm floundering, but if the director likes it, then I'm happy.

Using my sculpting analogy, I'm lopping off huge chunks of clay right now so the shape is recognizable. I have a week yet to polish and maybe add some fine detail.

The detail, of course, is what makes a thing beautiful and transcendent. I strive for that in my work--I'm sure I miss it more often than not, but it's all I know how to do, is to chase it. It's my motivation for being in the theater--that moment when everything congeals into something beautiful on stage and my body and soul are part of an amazing, transcendent experience. You can feel it on stage and oh yeah... it is an addictive drug.

Transcendence happens...

... when the actors connect to the character's feelings, with the words that they say, with each other and with the audience. When the audience is drawn in to the characters, the cycle is a tsaheylu connection in Avatar.

When you don't have it, you want it. When you have it, you want it to last longer. As soon as it's over, you want it again. But it's powerful enough to tide you over for quite some time.

Performers of all stripes know this feeling.

And the difference between being beautiful and being transcendent is sooooooo fine that it's barely noticeable, but it makes all the difference in the world. Check out the two vids below of the song Suddenly Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors. (I'll bet you didn't know that more famous 1986 version starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin was a remake of Roger Corman's film from 1960)

In the first video, pop star Mandy Moore and Broadway vet Adam Pascal sing the song. Pascal gained his fame as one of the leads in Rent, and Mandy Moore has been a touring staple for years. She once turned down the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, so she is well-thought of as a live performer. They both have serious vocal chops.

So yes..they sing the hell out of the song--there's no doubt that both of them have beautiful voices if you close your eyes and just listen. But...they are both more in love with their voices and themselves in the song than each other.

It's not quite transcendent. They don't connect with each other, and the audience doesn't really connect with them. It's lovely and some people will mistake it for something incredible. It's a very pretty song.


Check out this version sang by Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene. Technically, they don't have anywhere near the voices of Pascal and Moore. They are both what would be called 'character' voices. But they sure can act.

Note the *connection* between the two...even when they move apart, you still get the feeling that they are connected to each other, no? The camera work is better in the film version of course, but can you feel yourself sucked into the story...and notice that you start to feel what each character is feeling?

More importantly...the actors connect simply with the words of the song. They don't go for the pretty sounding note--we feel like they actually mean what they are saying. They just happen to be saying it to a tune.

By the end...we are totally connected as an audience with the characters and the actors and the song. We haven't just heard a pretty love song, we watched....and participated in a transcendent event- the very instant when two people fell in love.

Subconsciously, by bearing witnessing to that moment we actually transport ourselves to the moment (or moments) when WE have fallen in love. If we were in a theater with someone, we might squeeze the hand of the person we're with, or cast a glance their way. It's a poignant moment we want to share.

Imagine that...a whole audience falls in love at the same time--that's pretty transcendent.

It's a good reminder for me, this most basic of all acting lessons: CONNECT with the words. If I'm lucky, something beautiful and transcendent might happen.

Just mean what you say. How hard is that?

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I recall a role you played when you were connected, but your stage partner wasn't. If my memory serves me well, this made it difficult for you to mean what you say.