Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Spiral Stair Case

The men and women who develop the skills and techniques with which to become that particular instrument known as an actor are the very men and women we must cultivate, watch, digest as though they were thick, complex novels. Being an actor implies the ability to set the self on hold, take in an entirely new responsive agency, and impart authenticity and motive to that agency.

With all due respect to actors, whom writers must watch sedulously for clues and new ways of saying old things, writers must be everyone in the story, moving from one to the other and seeing each from a multifarious perspective.

It is no wonder that writers are often abstracted or cranky or apparently lost because they are all of these things and more all at once. At least they are honest about the affliction.

It is no easy thing being so many things, less easier yet when being all of them at once.

The actor and the writer are tools, forged for the sake of evoking characters from themselves and setting them forth, each is like the Golem of Prague, creating a being from the mud of creation. It is hard enough being a convincing actor; becoming a convincing writer requires a type of ductility that bids farewell to comfortable behavior. For the actor and the writer there is always the fear that the word or gesture or combination punch of word and gesture have gone too far or not far enough.

Because of my own tendencies as a bombast, I attempt to prune back, to risk the underplay instead of indulging the emotive surge. Write long, cut short. Effective text is like scroll work; the interstices are as important as the flourishes. What has been left unsaid is left so deliberately. The purpose of the unsaid is to make the reader is aware it is unsaid,yet possibly coming forth at any moment. This is akin to being on the trapeze without a net.

Writers would do well to check in on political blogs both from the left and the right, paying particular attention to the comments of readers. This is one step beyond the letter to the editor, a step in which anger, frustration, and yes, even bigotry trump reason, reveal sides of the human condition that elect presidents, senators, representatives.

We meet the actor in the green room to complain about the boorishness of audiences and end up describing our own shortfall.

There is much work for us to do, much to get down, articulated, plangent, set free to do its work. There is much for us to do; winning over the audience to the point where, at least for a time, it listens and responds before it goes off to attach raspy comments on the commentary of others.


Wild Iris said...

What is said and unsaid are equally important, I agree, as well as the order in which it is said or not said. Every word is strategically placed.

lowenkopf said...

And, Iris, not to forget the intervals between notes in music. We're talking about all the things the text allows the reader/hearer to fill in.