I went to see a play a couple of days ago. I won’t say what it was or where because it doesn’t really matter and I don’t want to call anyone out for their performance.
Acting is hard and I’m not a critic. But as an actor, it’s important to me to have a critical eye. I am interested in exploring what kind of acting draws me in and analyzing why. I also think it’s important to understand what sort of acting repels me and why.
So I went to this play. It was a pretty short, intense story that was growing to a climactic end. I could tell from the writing that this play was RAMPING UP.
And there is a scene in the middle of this play where two people are talking and one person (a woman) is trying to convince another (a man) of something. Ya know, like pretty much every play ever.
But here’s the thing; the young actress cried through the WHOLE SCENE. And it completely dragged the story to a halt. Because of her emotions, every word was drawn out and sounded just the same. I couldn’t hear or frankly understand her argument because it sounded like one long wail. And in the theater, I am sitting too far away to see her tears anyway- I could only hear how this emotion muffled and muddled the whole scene. The production didn’t recover it’s momentum, unfortunately.
Now. I am an actress and I know the desire to connect deeply and convey strong emotion. I have definitely mistaken crying for acting. I probably will again. However, they are different things. And it’s a tricky balancing act, especially when the script calls for high stakes and intense emotion. But emotions aren’t the goal. Convincing your scene partner to do what you want them to do is the goal.
I was so grateful for the reminder because- well, I NEED it, and watching actors and plays is how I get better. I don’t fault this actress for her deep emotion. In fact, it’s a huge gift that not everyone has. I hope to continue to watch her work and watch her grow. I hope to see her harness these emotions and allow them to propel her into ACTION. Then I am sure I will be witness to something great indeed.
Always, always, always, we must serve the play; not ourselves and not our emotions.