On monday night I saw a solo performance night (followed by a tribute to) a wonderful local actor who is a genius actor. Especially when it comes to acting Shakespeare. He has half a century of experience acting and teaching Shakespeare and there’s really no one better.
There’s something incredibly humbling yet superbly inspiring in seeing a performance by a seasoned actor… one whose YEARS of training and experience have given them a great deal of wisdom and huge sense of ease in performance. Younger (and I don’t just mean kids, teens, or college) actors have a tendency to show an audience how hard they’re working and expel so much energy that we may lose track of the story being told. Emphasis is placed all over the place and it become a show “full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
“O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags…” A WISE actor knows that their lines should seem to just fall out of their mouths. To just talk to the other characters and the audience. Text that is ingrained into an actor’s soul because it has been there for years, as well as the wisdom of how to effectively tell a story to (not AT) an audience create a truly spellbinding performance.
Actors: aspire to this kind of performance wisdom. I sure do — I’m trying to figure out how to be like someone who has had more years experience than I have existed — I’ll let you know if I ever figure that one out. Everyone else: be aware of it this quality in people in performance. If movies are all you have access to, that’s fine. But there’s a different sort of magic when you’re right there in front of such a powerful actor.
Next time you see a play by Shakespeare (or not), recognize if the actor is proclaiming their lines or if they’re just talking. Are you seeing “a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more,” or “A showing of a heavenly effect in an earthly actor”?