Tag: Actor Wisdom

“An actor is a man who pretends to be someone who is usually pretending to be someone else.” – Kenneth Tynan

How much of theatre has to do with imposture! Walter Kerr, in his brilliant book The Silent Clowns, points out that Chaplin’s genius lay in his ability to assume any identity at the drop of a hat – to become, in a split second, according to the demands of the plot, a great lover, a great gymnast, violinist, skater, thief, gourmet, conjurer, etc. etc., while having, at bottom, no true identity of his own. This leads me to reflect how much of world drama concerns people pretending to be what they aren’t. Hamlet feigns madness; the noble King of Thebes is an incestuous patricide; Kent pretends to be a serving-man, Edgar to be a mad beggar, In Too True to Be Good (which I saw last week in Clifford’s excellent production) nobody is what he seems – the humble Private Meek is in fact the military commander, while the commander himself is a frustrated water-colourist; the confidence trickster is a priest; his henchwoman poses first as a nurse and then as a countess. Throughout Shaw, burglars turn out to be philosophers, and villainous exploiters turn out to be heroes; even Saint Joan dresses up as a man. Mistaken identity is not only what the craft of acting is all about; it is what much Of drama is all about. An actor is a man who pretends to be someone who is usually pretending to be someone else.

November 16, 1975

Kenneth Tynan. The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan

Alan Arkin Interview

What is a successful life to you?

A successful life is constantly shedding skin. When you’re a teenager, you lose a girlfriend or boyfriend and you think you’ll die. Five years later, you look back and you realize it was childish. You’re laughing. That goes on through a successful life — you come to endings and you have the courage for continual growth.

Do you prefer standup, sitcoms or feature films?

I mostly can’t abide sitcoms. I feel there’s an undercurrent in most of them that’s: “You remember us, we’re the cute people you love.” A director once told me the problem with sitcoms: “A great theatrical act has a beginning, middle and end, sitcoms are always act two, they have no beginning or end.” A Buddhist idea of hell is being trapped in a perpetual cycle of mistakes you never get out of.

Nadja Sayej,
InsideHook

Fresh Air – Assorted Theater Interviews

https://freshairarchive.org/playlist/2402

October 29, 1997 21:19 David Mamet’s Advice for Actors. Playwright and Screenwriter David Mamet. His latest film is “The Edge,” and he’s recently published two books: “The Old Religion,” (Simon & Schuster) is a novel about a southern Jewish man falsely accused of murder. “True and False: Heresy and Common sense for the Actor” (Pantheon) is a guide to acting that negates the common and popular dramatic techniques. Mamet won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

June 11, 1991 13:01 Playwright Christopher Durang on New York Theater Durang is best-known for his controversial play, “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You.” A new collection of six of his plays has just come out called “Christopher Durang Explains It All For You.” He joins Fresh Air to talk about some of his successes and failures, and his frustrations with New York theater. Added

December 11, 1998 11:12 Frank Rich Dismisses His Title as the “Butcher of Broadway” Once the most powerful reviewers in America, The New York Times’ former drama critic, Frank Rich has a new collection of his reviews published “Hot Seat : Theater Criticism for the New York Times, 1980-1993 by Random House.” When he stepped down as critic in 1993, It was considered a great day for many playwrights. The British press once dubbed him “The Butcher of Broadway;” playwright David Mamet called him “a terrible critic..

April 24, 2020 29:30 Remembering Tony Award-Winning Character Actor Brian Dennehy The burly actor, who died April 15, played the leading role in Death of a Salesman, in both the Broadway production as well as the 2000 TV movie. Dennehy spoke to David Bianculli in 1999.

March 26, 2020 16:35 ‘Fresh Air’ Remembers Broadway Playwright Terrence McNally McNally, who died March 24 due to complications related to COVID-19, won Tony awards for Love! Valour! Compassion!, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ragtime and Master Class. Originally broadcast June 1993.

November 13, 2019 35:15 Actor Willem Dafoe Reflects On A Career Of Being A ‘Good Bad Guy’ Dafoe has played villains, soldiers, van Gogh and Jesus. He’s earned four Oscar nominations and appeared in more than 100 films — including, most recently, Motherless Brooklyn and The Lighthouse.

January 3, 2017 50:30 Lin-Manuel Miranda On Disney, Mixtapes And Why He Won’t Try To Top ‘Hamilton’ The creator of the hit musical Hamilton, talks about his early love of musicals, and writing rhymes for Hamilton.

May 29, 2014 44:00 From The Screen To Broadway: Chris O’Dowd Takes On ‘Of Mice And Men’ The Irish actor was introduced to a large American audience through the film Bridesmaids. He’s now playing Lenny in the revival of the theatrical adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic.

August 16, 2013 27:03 Bobby Cannavale, At Home On Broadway The actor, who starred in Glenngarry Glen Ross opposite Al Pacino, has been acting for the stage since he was a teenager in Union City, N.J. “It was the only thing I ever wanted to do, really,” he says.

November 22, 2012 50:16 Gershwins And Me’ Tells The Stories Behind 12 Songs. Musician Michael Feinstein chronicles his experience working as an archivist and cataloger for legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin. The book is presented through the stories of 12 of the Gershwin brothers‘ songs, including “Fascinating Rhythm,” “The Man I Love” and “I Got Rhythm.” This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 17, 2012. Add

August 30, 2012 17:58 David Alan Grier’s ‘Sporting Life’ On Broadway. The stand-up comedian and star of In Living Color played Sporting Life in the opera Porgy and Bess. The show, which won Tony Awards, closes on Broadway next month. This interview was originally broadcast on May 22, 2012. David Alan Grier plays Sporting Life in the opera Porgy and Bess, which closes on Broadway next month. Porgy and Bess won two Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.

May 15, 2012 49:11 Audra McDonald: Shaping ‘Bess’ On Broadway The actress is nominated for her fifth Tony Award for the Broadway musical Porgy and Bess. “There’s very few quiet moments for Bess,” she says. “They’re all very big, very emotional. … And to commit to that night after night is very difficult.

As If Thinking – Fake It Til You Make It

One of my favorite ‘tricks’ came from a psychotherapy client I worked with years ago. He suffered from episodic bouts of severe depression. After a while, he figured out a way to handle the depression while working a complex career position. When he woke up in the morning, if he felt the symptoms of depression, he would pretend that he was an actor in a movie. After he would shower, he would stare into his bathroom mirror and shout out loud to himself Action! He would then act as if he was a non-depressed movie character.

The point of this exercise was to temporarily get out of his depressed mode and act as if he were a non-depressed business person going to work and completing his daily routine. I thought this was a clever short term psychological technique of not allowing the depressive symptoms to overtake his life. Many times, people will allow the symptoms to keep them from functioning in their daily lives, making the symptoms even worse, a vicious circle soon occurs.

Sometimes, if you act as if long enough, you become that role…for good or for bad.

Quora

see also No Stupid Questions: Does “As If” Thinking Really Work? (NSQ Ep. 12)

To Be Thought Normal – Fast Food Stanislavsky List

To be Thought Normal
Agree with caution.
Ask dull questions.
Check appearance, opinions.
Be concerned about the time.
Dislike bodily contact.
Don’t take up much space – unless trying to imitate others.
Seek reassurance.
Find others strange.
Be formal.
Have a slight smile, or a slight frown.
Have moderate and/or nervous voice.
Keep others at a polite distance (if possible).
Laugh in moderation.
Sit symmetrically.
Small concealed fidgeting.
Speak in clichés.
Try not to make the first move.
Panic momentarily and instantly recover.

Johnstone, Keith. Impro for Storytellers

Lists are ways of giving the players permission to create characters that may be alien to them.

Long ago I directed a play at the Danish State Theatre School and discovered that the students knew hardly anything about the ideas of Stanislavsky (the great Russian director and acting teacher). He believed that if an actor is absorbed in trying to achieve a purpose, automatic systems will kick in (as happened to Tony Curtis, who was screwing up his debut as a messenger-boy until an older actor murmured, ‘Try to get a tip’).

Fast-Food Stanislavsky was my attempt to speed up the learning, and to my astonishment it made the players seem boundlessly imaginative.

Actor Clark Middleton Interview

You have said that your wish for people with arthritis is that they not be defined by their disability, but empowered by it.

You have to take the lead, redefine your narrative. Disabilities certainly create obstacles, but how you interpret those obstacles can become a creative act. I work in a business where one’s appearance matters, at first, perhaps more than anything else. However, people get to know you, your character and confidence, how you transform a room or engage others. Those factors can change how people see you. Not because of, but in spite of our disabilities.

Actor Clark Middleton Shares Insight Into His Shows, The Path and The Blacklist
Jeryl Brunner
Parade

Cary Grant as Cary Grant – Review by Tom Wolfe

“Cary Grant!” says the first one, coming right up and putting one hand on his shoulder. “Look at you! I just had to come over here and touch you!”

Cary Grant plays a wonderful Cary Grant. He cocks his head and gives the Cary Grant mock-quizzical look – just like he does in the movies – the look that says, “I don’t know what’s happening, but we’re not going to take it very seriously, are we? Or are we?”

“I have a son who is the spitting image of you,” she is saying.

Cary Grant is staring at her hand on his shoulder and giving her the Cary Grant fey-bemused look and saying, “Are you trying to hold me down?”

Loverboy of the Bourgeoisie, Tom Wolfe
via Roger Ebert’s Book of Film: From Tolstoy to Tarantino, the Finest Writing From a Century of Film
Amazon

Diderot, Garrick, King Lear

ROACH: Yes, well Diderot comments on that in the Paradox of the Actor, which you alluded to a moment ago. It was a demonstration of facial physiognomy, of control over the face and its expression, that paralleled a pianist playing scales. Garrick started on one emotion, and then ran his face through nine distinct emotions, recognizable, stopped, and ran his face back down through the same sequence, but in reverse, just as you would play a scale on the piano.

BOGAEV: Wow. And these two screens are kind of like a frame, a picture frame or a door frame?

ROACH: Yeah, they’re like a proscenium to frame his face. So it was just the face coming through. And that—to your point about did he need a full-body posture or movement to work his magic—the answer is as long as it was close enough, he could do it with his face alone.

BOGAEV: So, talk about a rubber face. So Diderot, as you say, wrote these passages in the Paradox that he attributed to Garrick and Garrick’s voice. He has Garrick talking about acting and also about the type of person that an actor should envision himself portraying, and he talks about an ideal man, as opposed to playing oneself. Garrick says that if you play only yourself, you’ll be a crappy actor, a mediocre actor.

ROACH: Yes, yes. That’s exactly…  You’ll be mediocre. It is a being that you imagine, that you bring into being, by the force of your creative imagination. And when you think of it, it’s an extraordinary thing to, as it were, give birth to a human being who’s not yourself, but the distillation of all that you have observed and remembered and felt, and then can recombine to put it into the two hours’ traffic of our stage.

BOGAEV: Can you give us some examples of where you see this in action?

ROACH: Diderot…

BOGAEV: For instance, he did Lear.

ROACH: Yes, yes. So that would be a good example because it was one of his most famous and successful Shakespearean roles. And he left a note behind, it was actually to the French when he was giving his parlor exhibition of Lear, and he explained how he came to his understanding of the crushing tragedy of Lear’s loss of his daughter. Garrick had heard tell of a madman who was kept confined in a private home nearby where Garrick lived, and he got permission to study the gestures of this madman, which consisted of an impassioned reenactment of a terrible event. And again and again and again, this poor man would go over this, a traumatized memory that he kept repeating and repeating. Evidently, he’d been holding his child in his arms on an upper story window while a parade went by outside, and he lost his grip on his little girl, and she fell to her death in the street below. His tragedy was reenacting this. Garrick had the insight that this was the Lear action. Garrick would reenact this madman’s gestures and then coolly step back and say, “Thus it was I learned to imitate madness.”

Joseph Roach interviewed by Barbara Bogaev
Shakespeare Unlimited

https://www.folger.edu/shakespeare-unlimited/joseph-roach-acting

Ben Mendelsohn On Fresh Air

GROSS: You know, you’re about the facts. You’re about using logic to try to solve this murder, and you’re unwilling to accept any supernatural explanation. Do you relate to that as a person? And ever – have you ever had an experience that couldn’t be explained by rational thinking?

MENDELSOHN: Yeah, I do relate to it as a person. I’m a son of a scientist. And I think in a lot of ways, I’ve had many things that are hard to explain in a mathematical or – in a way that I’m aware of, that are mystical to me. In fact, I think that we – you know, what happened in the scientific revolution, if you like, is that we actually locked off a lot of our mystical faculties and that we, as a being, probably do a lot better with some more of our mystical faculty doors open. So yes, I’ve had many things – you know, like that thing where you’re just thinking about someone and they call you. You know, that one? I mean, I’m sure you’ve had that, right?

GROSS: Yeah, I’ve kind of had that.

MENDELSOHN: I’ve had that so many times, and I get it with certain people. I’ve had situations in my life where, inexplicably, you know, someone’s just there when you just need them. And I don’t know whether we do that as a way of reverse engineering, you know, like, miracle or whether there’s something else operating out there. We can’t explain it all yet by science. That’s my – that would be my point.

‘Outsider’ Actor Ben Mendelsohn On Australian Machismo And Mastering Accents
Fresh Air

Note – in the interview Mendelsohn says Scorsese is in Taxi Driver in two places. I know the famous one: “What a 44 magnum would do to a woman’s”… He left the other one for the listeners. Stumped me.