Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mimicry is the highest form of...

We have all had to play the game. The game where you have a partner. One of you is "#1" and the other is "#2." You stand facing each other and it is the object of #2 to exactly mirror the movements of #1. If number one raises her hand, #2 has to raise his hand. If #1 scratches his head, #2 must do the same. It's a common acting exercise in acting classes, but I've seen it done as simply a children's game or even as drills for a basketball squad. Indeed, to quote from Hamlet, we are striving to hold "the mirror up to nature."

If mimicry is the highest form of flattery, then theatre truly is an important art that reflects back to us our struggles as humans in our journey called life. It is the moments that intersect - when the image in the mirror seems to reach out and touch your outstretched hand - that can be most meaningful.

Being able to present the clearest image in the mirror should be the goal of the theatre. This is why we train as actors and work on how to simply "be" on-stage. What else are Meisner's repetition exercises but learning how to mimic a realistic response. We work so hard to learn how to create character, but what we are really training ourselves to do is access a response at any time.

There are times too when the mirror can be distorted - like a fun house mirror. Yet it is in those deliberate exaggerations the we make commentary on the every day normal things. By blowing something out of proportion you are distilling it down to its essence and as long as you can still have the moment where the real object reaches our and touches the image in the mirror, we have accomplished our jobs as artists.

Happy Birthday: Sir Derek Jacobi (b. 1938) & Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923)

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