Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Don't Direct Each Other"

Yesterday was the fifth meeting of the interdisciplinary team-taught class on The Tempest that I'm sitting in on in preparation for the performance next month on campus by Actors from the London Stage. We worked on acting techniques and did one exercise where we walked around the room in male/female pairings (taking turns being male or female) in courtly fashion as Renaissance music played. The climax of the exercise came when we presented ourselves to the queen, played by Prof. Andrea Sununu, who did a wonderful job of receiving us graciously, with a dignified nod or distant smile, except for the one or two occasions when she saw fit to extend her hand so that some favored one could kneel and kiss her ring.

Toward the end of the class, we received the following acting advice which doubles as extremely useful life advice:

"Acting is trying to change your partner" - but don't try to change your partner by giving explicit instructions for how the other person should act: "Don't direct each other." (With a blush I remembered the previous week where I had been full of helpful advice for how the Ferdinand and Miranda in my scene - I was Prospero - could deliver their lines more effectively!) Instead, "React to what they're actually giving you."

Here was the best part: Instead of saying "This isn't working, you're not coming to me," GET THEM TO COME TO YOU.

Oh. All those doomed relationships, a lifetime full of them, where I expended so much effort directing the other person to do what I what I wanted him to do, now exposed for the failure of my inappropriate directorial stance.

Oh, well. Now I know!

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Your title says so much. Day two and I'm still thinking about it.