Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Individual as an Ensemble

An actor lives to portray a variety of other individuals. Some actors, in live performances, may even "double," or portray more than one person in a single venture. 

Among your favorite actors at the moment is the English performer, Mark Rylance, who, in various roles, has been the female lead of Twelfth Night, a friendly giant in BFM, a filmed version of Roald Dahl's story for young readers, a Russian spy in the film, The Bridge of Sighs,  and Thomas Cromwell, confidante and minister to Henry (Tudor)VIII in Hilary Mantel's epic Wolf Hall.

There have been times when you have wished to undergo the training that might make you an actor, if only to more understand and appreciate the diversity of emotions and techniques that go into acting. On some occasions, you have performed as an actor, the outcome of happy coincidence.

Unless an actor has achieved a significant status, the need to audition for a part is as commonplace as putting on makeup. Some higher authority, a director or producer, must be convinced of the actor's ability to fit a particular role and as well to engage other actors in the same production with a high degree of chemistry, a portmanteau word for the qualities of engagement, spontaneity, and plausibility.

All those times in which you've argued how any individual at any given time becomes in fact a composite of selves, representing a spectrum of emotional and cultural selves, you were well aware of the rather large ensemble cast residing within your person.

This brings you to a place where you experience the same fraught and suspenseful moments when an actor auditions for a part, not just any part, but a desired, coveted one.  

Your own auditions are often conducted without preparation, perhaps even without any thought at all. Nevertheless, there you are, from time to time, wanting to do well, wanting to be the best you possible, wanting to be extended to a quality of performance you've never reached before.

Who, in effect, gets the role? Is it the brash, super confidant seventeen-year-old you? Is it the aspect of yourself you refer to as Built-in Cynic? Is it the Inner Critic, who has fond fault with so many of your ideas and ventures?

Such questions are not mere frivolity or exaggeration; these are questions you ask on occasions of retrospect, where you process the fact that you might have given the role to an aspect of you that got the job done, but now, you wish to bring to events even more appropriate and vigorous characters who will bring confidence, lightheartedness, and empathy to the audition.

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