The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1688  Wednesday, 27 August 2003

From:           D Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Aug 2003 09:45:14 -0500
Subject: 14.1679 Thirteenth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1679 Thirteenth Night

Jack Heller writes

>This, from C David Frankel, is, of course, appropriate:
>>It might help, sometimes, to think of theatrical performance more in the
>>tradition of jazz.  The texts exist, in their various formats, and
>>people do with them what they will.  No performance, either on stage,
>>film, or video, will ever be "authentic" to the "original" text and
>>"original" performance.

I left the original post alone, but I can't a second time.

No, theatrical performance is not at all like jazz, unless you're
speaking of commedia dell'arte or other improvisational forms. The actor
in a standard play has only a very small amount of latitude. On the one
hand, you aren't hired to re-write the text, but to do the play the
director picked out and cast you for. On the other hand, your fellow
actors are going to let you have it right in the tush if you start
screwing around with your interpretation, much less the words and
blocking, once you're into performance. They count on your character
saying and doing certain things, and being in certain places, so that
their characters can interact in the ways worked out in rehearsal. If
you go all haywire, they will not be pleased.

Improvisational skill is a separate talent from dramatic skill. Some
actors have both, some just one or the other -- just as some musicians
can play both jazz and classical music, but some only one or the other.


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