Saturday, November 21, 2009

Acting - completely different or, is it?

Acting - completely different from storytelling - or, is it? Storytellers have no fourth wall. We do not create illusion, we create images together WITH the aduience, not FOR the audience. we can connect directly with audience as ourselves and can go in and out of character - if we have the skill - without ruining the performance. With this as my background I was excited to take an acting course. I fell into storytelling nearly 20 years ago, when the acting course I wanted was closed and the only course available as a possible elective, was Storytelling. I was in my mid thirties and wanted to study acting - I had been way too shy when I was in high school to do anything like perform in front of people. Art school (where I completed undergraduate work as a painter ) had no acting except for the extensive posturing of "artistes" but that is another story...

So Robert and I took an amazing acting course this fall - It was called - Fun With Shakespeare. It was many things but "fun"? Seems so trite. It was challenging, provocative, stimulating and supportive. It was also fun, but that was secondary. First of all we each learned two monologues and one scene. The language was dense and we had only 8 weeks - 2.5 hours a week of class time to do all this work. Luckily we had an amazing class - every student was serious and committed yet, none were annoyingly dour or critical. We all worked really hard.

Our instructor, director D.Adriane Spunt, was a fearless leader. She kept standards high while keeping anxiety low - this is a masterful skill for a director. Some of us had acted, some had just a wee bit of experience and long ago and others had never done anything like acting, ever. Adriane made us all at home in our experience and we worked together very well. My experience as a story teller probably helped me some, but I am very new to acting classes. When telling a story, I usually imagine myself to be the person of every voice I speak - BUT memorizing other people's words? Eeeek. I eventually got the hang of Portia's speech and decided I really liked having someone to talk to while I ranted and raved. And the beauty of the words was a treat.

The scene from Richard the III was challenging. I could not make head nor tails of Lady Anne at first. It made perfect sense that she would attack, even if it seemed suicidal, the creep who killed her husband. In her belief system, she could not escape her situation through direct suicide, so perhaps she was provoking Richard III to kill her? Yet, a few pages later, she takes his ring and we learn that she marries him. The story was really getting in my way of saying the words as written.

Having eyes outside of me and someone direct me and another actor to work with on all this was extremely enjoyable. As a storyteller, I tend to go into a story trance and allow the story to come through me.I do not think about or analyze much of what I do. Instead I perform by speaking the voices in my head and then checking in with the same voices about what I am doing. Kinda lonely. Kinda too mentally ill.

While acting, I felt more conscious and aware of the process and actually made choices about how I moved or spoke. It is a different process but one that would help me with my work. A story buddy ? *sigh* I have long hoped for one.

BTW - Here is Robert in Henry V...

Wonderful class !