Acting Versus Reacting

The Maydays have been recruiting. Last night we held our most recent audition and with some success I might add. The strongest collective of auditionees I’ve certainly seen in my 2 and a half year stint as a Mayday and hopefully someone new will don the coveted grey shirt of destiny in the coming months.

There are a couple of inspirations for this post, the first being my recent theatre tour to the far east and the other, perhaps more importantly, was a comment made by one of the select band showing their stuff last night. allow me to paraphrase;

“I like scripted stuff. I didn’t think I’d enjoy improvisation because I like having a script but I do and it’s amazing”

Now, I’m not going to try and discern whether throwing yourself into the unkown is better than the bard but it does raise some interesting questions

are they that different?

Shakespeare himelf is alleged to have allowed a lot of improvisation in his works, Some of his more prosey pieces may even have been less scripts, more transcripts. Mike Leigh, acclaimed british director, sets a framework for a scene and allows his actors to go from points A to B in whatever way they choose, working and reworking the lines until they both are natural and further the plot.

So why is it, then that there is a perceived difference? Is it not true that good theatre or film, the scripted, written stuff, is only trying to recreate, as truly as possible, the improvisation we all do in our every day lives? When was the last time you prewrote a conversation with a loved one, or sent the pages for your next work meeting to your bosses?

Must they be seperate?

As an improviser I have recently found my other work, “Acting”, increasingly restrictive and liberating at the same time. While I often long to break away from the writers words to enhance a scene, it is also reassuring that they’ve given me my scene in the first place and the pressure is off to come up with something for it. I feel that each discipline feeds the other. Improv skills can give an actor the tools to keep scenes fresh and even find nuances that the writer or director themselves may not have seen. and the skills picked up as an actor can give your improvisational performances truth, depth and sometime more strikingly the ability to be seen and heard in the first place.

Me? I like the improv best but don’t let that put you off, Mr Spielberg.

Posted by Jason Blackwater

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