Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A New Way of Acting

"'Ultimately if we do this right, the character will tell you how to behave... The idea is that everybody dies. The playwright has to die in the director. And then actors have to die in the play because they have to let go their ego to create a world that is a world of its own. And then of course [the] play goes into [the] audience's mind, and everyone understands it their own way."
Natasha Williams

NPR recently did an article on the life, career, and directing style of Natasha Williams. While her life's story is undoubtedly interesting, her approach to creating theatre is even more fascinating. Her whole idea is to finds ways to serve the story and the text.

One of the actors who has worked with her is quoted as saying "That's a process different from any I've ever encountered." But why? Why should putting the story first be such a foreign idea?

Too many actors get engrossed in creating their character. Too many directors loose the play in their vision of the piece. Too many designers over-design and allow their work to swallow the rest of the play. Too often all of the above elements do not dwell in harmony with one another and the play just does not have the resonance that it should.

Theatre is a collaborative art and this means that every time a story is told, all of the artists involved should unite behind the same story. This means putting self and ego to the side. This means letting the text take you where it needs to go instead of trying to force your perspective on the journey. It means allowing an audience member to have their own experience and interpretation of the performance. It means allowing yourself to fail so you can see where it is you need to go.

If creation is done our of fear, the fear will constrain and limit you. The audience will sense this and retreat into their comfort zone as well. If performance is done with reckless abandon, everyone feels threatened and unsafe - like walking a tightrope without a net. But if theatre is done with confidence and bravado in an inviting way everyone feels empowered and there is no limit to where the story can lead.

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