Welcome to Michael’s ‘Intimate With Strangers’ Page 5
THE PLAY AND THE ROLE
After conceiving and exploring the previous circumstances and everything tangible in
the place, put the first beat of the scene on its feet. If you have worked for several hours
on the place (for a five-minute scene) and have thoroughly examined the objects which
surround you, it won’t be time wasted. If you work several more hours on the first beat of
the scene, it won’t be too much time spent either. This first beat can be improvised, tried,
tested and “probed” for a long time to make certain the circumstances, the previous
relationship, the objectives and obstacles are operative.
Not one piece of “blocking” will be necessary because your physical life will organically
evolve from all the things you have just tested. Not one line will have to be memorized or
fixed because the volition which will send you into the verbal actions will have sprung
from your character’s needs. When the first beat seems to be valid and the
accompanying words have run out, pick up the script and continue to the next beat.
If the seemingly endless work on that first beat has been solid, the next one should
evolve and the work will become less agonizing.
Avoid run-throughs at all costs. Save them for the last. And don’t finish a rehearsal just
because it “felt good” or was “comfortable.” If your inner and outer sources were vague,
your place and objects and objectives general, your action work will be fuzzy. So no
matter how good it “felt,” unless that one-in-a-million moment of inspiration blows your
way the next running through will be full of hot air.
When the scene is ready for studio presentation (after you have incorporated all the
elements necessary and executed them to the best of your ability), you may still have
problems which you don’t know how to solve. But that’s why you are testing your work for
your teacher and colleagues. If you present the scene for “applause” you are working
incorrectly. You will have been objectively editing and directing. The most valuable criticism you get will involve the areas where you have failed in subjectivity. This occurs
whenever you have stalemated your innocence, where, whatever objective work you
may have had to do, failed to free your intuitions, failed to lead you to an acting score
which could be executed spontaneously with all the logic of your character in action.
Whether or not your concept for the material is ideal, whether or not you are upstaging
or being upstaged, whether or not the mechanical trappings of the scene function is all
immaterial for scene study.
The same holds true if you are observing your other colleagues’ scene work and
listening to the criticism they are receiving. Avoid becoming an “audience.” Don’t judge,
don’t approve or disapprove. Concern yourself with their technical problems and identify
with them. If the work is successful, ask yourself why. If it is unsuccessful in certain areas,
ask yourself why. See if you can use the criticism the other actors receive to relate to
your own problems, where yours are similar. We are always most open-minded and
understanding when our problems are discussed in terms of someone else. Sometimes
we learn most off the backs of others. Adulation or putting-down, approval or
disapproval, is just opinion, bunkum and gossip.