Subject: Interpretation & the story
Date: Friday, June 30, 2006 1:02 AM
From: blisshapnz@nasharts.com <blisshapnz@nasharts.com>

Hi guys,

Just to clarify....

Tonight I went into character a lot, but I just want to emphasize that I was working with character as it was integral to the telling of the story. There is still plenty of room for the actor & director to add colors & flavors (accents, humps, whatever.)

The work I did with Estel did not mean that all priests have to act like monks & walk with their head down in prayer. (And in fact, I probably leaned way more towards Buddhist monk than Catholic priest in my 60 second description of spiritual practice -- but to add an ingredient that I felt was missing and/or to compensate for an ingredient that was changing the story.) To be honest, I felt that Estel’s male sexual energy (magnified by his size) was distorting the story. Sexuality, and inappropriate sexuality was key to that particular story, and thus to have just the tiniest bit can affect what we see. We are looking for it. I might not have done that at all with another actor.

So rather than tell him to ‘not be sexual’ (and you heard him say it was the most important thing to him...), is like telling our governor not to have muscles....good luck with that. Or like telling a model not to be feminine. I’m not sure they would honestly know what you mean. And to not be sexual.... I mean, we are all, after all, sexual beings. (And to give credit, I think he actually had toned it down a lot compared to what I’ve seen him do.)

So, to accomplish this different modality - I gave him something to focus on – that helped take away or tone down that sexual energy. There’s no question that once he had (during a rehearsal process) internalized this other (more respectful & contained) way of using his energy & physicality, we could then introduce back in some of the quirks & idiosyncrasies or relaxed openness or whatever other qualities might be wanted. I was not attempting to impose my interpretation of the character as much as pointing out that the interpretation (or actor quality) we were seeing was telling a different story, and to give ways of physically helping the actor adjust to a different way of operating.

Another thing to encourage with him could be the open heart, or compassion or love or whatever you want to call it –rather than all the fear & anger which are readily available to that actor. I don’t know, maybe it’s finding balance of qualities – but it’s all to tell the story, and if one quality is overpowering or inappropriate, I find it easier to have the actor focus on the circumstances that create the quality you want instead telling them to not do another. (That’s one way anyway.)

And, just to give another example, Felix could be nuts, have OCD or just be upset & trying to cope, but he had to need to clean. That’s important for the story. Also that it disturbs Oscar. Whether Oscar’s a surfer dude or an older fat man with a cigar is an artistic decision you can make and create through casting & rehearsal, but he still has to enjoy being messy & get irritated with his neat friend’s cleaning. That’s the story. Yes?

If you have comments or questions on anything that goes on in class, I always very much appreciate it and am open to hearing & helping clarify whenever possible. K?


See you next week.
Have a good 4th of July.
Steph