Here, There and Many Other Places

In Artists, Games, Irish Mist, Local projects, Revision, Theater on September 24, 2014 at 8:37 am

Improv. On stage  last night with someone his friends had brought along, telling him he was coming to watch a show. He’s a good thirty years younger than I am, and we had to improvise a scene from a troubled marriage.

Two (paradoxical) things I noticed during and after this second evening of improvisational work: 1) I forget myself best on stage in solos or in ensemble work. Improvising a scene with only one other person is the toughest. 2) When the improv doesn’t take off or sustain itself, I feel a huge longing to drop  my adopted local accent and revert to the one I acquired in childhood. As if the mimetic accents I use to “blend in” create an additional barrier to spontaneity. Not as noticeable in “real life” as on stage.

Stage work. At any level of proficiency (or lack thereof), the toughest is reverting to a child-like level of involvement in the game. A child doesn’t pretend he’s Zorro or a Masked Avenger. He is – until an adult snaps him out of the game with instructions to wash up for supper, or quit dawdling and get the homework done now.

A writer can dawdle. Search for the right word. Move a sentence around until it fits.Every word on the page counts – but  it doesn’t matter how much time you put on getting down the breathless account from the messenger. Not so when acting. You can’t just stand there – unless the standing carries an emotional charge you wish to convey to the audience. How long a pause, and to what end. What comes next, how you react to what the other person on stage provides – or doesn’t.

Meanwhile, in story: two characters at a critical juncture. Burned bridges behind them. Whereto now, and how? To do what? Together? Separate? They now carry the weight not only of their own stories. Whether aware of this or not, for the reader, they bear the accumulated effects of whatever occurred earlier, in Parts 1 and 2 of the story. Up to the writer to play the role of the audience, in a way. Attentive, interested, not too sure what to make of it all. Waiting for…something that may show up only once the tale is done.



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