Saw a homeless person drinking a cup of coffee in the Square so I watched him for five minutes. He did it better than anyone in class. We all act. We don’t live the parts. We may be okay at fooling people but I saw more in those five minutes than I’ve seen in section for the past three weeks. We suck basically. People do not wear their emotions on their faces except in plays. People wear something else on their faces.
When we were children we were taught that a frown drawn on a circle with eyes implied that the circle was a sad face. We were also taught that the circle with a smiley line meant that the circle was happy! Mad, lines above the eyebrows. And I say that that is not the way we look when we are happy, sad, or angry. The moral of the story is that all actors overact. The homeless person I saw in the street had a street face on for sure, but there were a hell of a few stories going on beneath that street face. When you are cold you don’t shiver and pull your head into your neck like some sort of inverse giraffe. You just feel cold. We don’t hop up and down to keep warm. We just look slightly pissed off to be out in the cold and not in the steam heat about a block away, with the December ice cutting through your coat like a hissing knife we stand and look a little pissed. That’s all.
The difficulties actors put up with are unfair! Here is an interesting exercise idea: put two actors in front of a classroom. Unbeknownst to the rest of the class, have on player think of his/her greatest sexual experience and have the other player think of the death of a loved one. BUT at all times the actors wil try to keep refrigerator-door faces!!! It would then be up to the watchers to determine who was thinking of what, and how the watchers were able to tell. We would then get into the realm of “true” motivations. We would then learn how to act behind the walls of indifference which we as vulnerable humans hide ourselves. This is important. It would be more important for a play like Pinter’s Homecoming where walls and blocks and negated communications are an integral part of the plot. Learn to act without acting!
Read Streetcar, again. I think Williams does what all good dramatists try to do: take a couple people you can sympathize with and put them on stage to bounce off one another for a couple acts. Is this how Shakespeare got started? Streetcar is cool. I have to imagine Blanche as going absolutely insane at the end or else the show doesn’t work for me. She has to be emotionally, mortally wounded. I don’t know why. The ending of the play always cooks right off the page.