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Archive for October 3rd, 2012

On the Boards

Do you enjoy acting?”

Acting is not something I have ever had the opportunity to try.  That said, yes, I do think I would enjoy it.  I’m just thinking about how much fun it would be to become a whole other person for a period of time, rather like going on vacation, where no one knows you.

Obviously, there are limitations.  I mean, at five feet zero inches (approximately 150 cm), I’m never going to be able to play a giant.  And if you have a high-pitched voice, you’ll never succeed as a basso profundo.  But to be able to change your wardrobe, your mannerisms, your hair style, maybe even your voice, if you can manage that – higher? lower? foreign accent?  – that could actually be a great deal of fun.

You could even infuse something of yourself into the role (or not – Eliza Doolittle with a Brooklyn accent?!  Fuh-geddaboudit!).  But if, for example, you were a knitter (like me), you could make your knitting a part of your persona, and that would help to make your character more convincing.  Well – okay – maybe not if the role was Sally Bowles in Cabaret, or the tough, street-smart cop Melanie Griffith was supposed to be in A Stranger Among Us (great movie, great premise, ruined by Griffith’s sleep-walking through her role).  But I can’t think of too many other roles where it couldn’t work.

However – I could only do this if I could “play” with my lines.  I mean, I know you’re supposed to memorize lines.  And I’ve seen the hilarious out-takes of shows where the actors flub their lines, and a serious scene is ruined by someone tripping over his own tongue, something like Waffly Wedded Wife (or not – this particular instance, while a prime example of tripping over one’s own tongue, made this wedding memorable for thousands more people than actually attended the event).

Anyway, my point is that to be able to act successfully, I would need to be able to “massage” my lines, that is, not spit them back word for word.  The actor Jimmy Steward did something like this with his first role, in which he played a butler with exactly two lines:  “Mrs. Smythe-Jones will see you now,” and “Mrs. Smythe-Jones is going to be awfully mad,” or something along those lines.  He played the role every single night, in addition to two matinees per week, and he said he got through it by altering his tone of voice and the way he said the words for every single performance.  That kind of artistry caught the attention of a Broadway producer, and the rest is history.

If I could do that – play with my role, have fun with my role, infuse something of myself into my role, and still actually become another person altogether for a period of time – yes, I think I’d love acting.

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