Friday, June 11, 2010

When It Works, It Works

It doesn't matter how old an actor is or how much experience that actor has or if they've ever even considered what a resume means because when lightning strikes, it hits and there's no pretending it didn't.

On a movie or television set, when an actor nails a scene, the crew applauds. For the actor it can be the most gratifying response because the crew does not have to do that and most times they don't.

In the theatre, when fellow castmates stop perusing their scripts, or stop grousing about the director or the lousy coffee, and instead watch a scene, the air in the room crackles. Everyone in that room knows what they're seeing is "the real deal."

In the Shakespeare Club, it's a battle to impress upon young chatterers the need for them to respect each other. Not everyone has a big part. Most have small parts and for children to develop the necessary patience to wait their turn is tricky.

Until the day. And there is always a day. When one actor lifts the text off the page, owns it, means it and sends it like a steady arrow across the stage. There is simply no ignoring the power of real.

This is indeed a sorry sight!
These hands have taken the life of our king;
Nothing will heal their burning sting!
Through his chambers I did creep,
A voice cried, 'Macbeth doth murder sleep!'
It was a sound I did abhor,
And still it cried, 'Sleep no more!'
Macbeth Act II, Scene II

The day that Oliver, as Macbeth, revealed his bloody hands to his wife and railed in dismay at his murderous act, I was thinking, Hmmm, this is coming along.

And then I caught young Mary's face upstage as she watched the scene. She was frozen, her mouth hung open in an "O" and her eyes were wide. Mary is eight years old and a sassy force but, at that moment, she was pure audience in the grip. She had the look every actor craves from its public, the look that asks, What's going to happen now?

Of course, Mary knew the story because she'd been studying it for weeks, but when Oliver owned his Macbeth, everything she thought she knew flew out of her head. Oliver had her and I thought, Hmmm, this is going to be great.

There's nothing like the attention of our peers. This is the rich reward of hard work. This is indeed not a sorry sight.

What have I ever done that I feel sorry for? Once when I was a baby I stole some gum and toy. The gum was red and it tace good. I got it from a store I don't now wat store were I got the toy. I got it from target that was red, blue, clear. It was cherye.
—Wendy, 3rd grade

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