Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Craftsmen Dionysus

Actors have it hard. At least in the world I grew up in.

Acting isn't a talent. I mean, you get on stage at a talent show and sing and -if you're good- the crowd applauds and says "Oh, the talent!". You get on stage and play the flute or trombone or ukulele or what have you, and -if you're good- the crowd applauds and comments on your fine-tuned skill. You get on stage and recite a monologue -even if it's not Shakespearean- and the audience golf claps and looks at each other with raised eyebrows mouthing "Did that kid just read to me without reading? I thought I got enough pointless lectures in college."

Acting is as much of a talent as kindness. Over half the population wouldn't applaud or acknowledge such a trait as unique, acclaimable skill. The majority of them might not even acknowledge its existence.

For this reason I've been forced to ignore talent shows nearly my whole life, because -even under a well developed character and blocked monologue- the average joe looks upon any recitation at any age as they would a fifth grader rambling Shel Silverstein in monotone. Ironic, is it not, that a talent that only exists to be displayed is often misunderstood or ill-accepted when exposed?

I think film actors hold their fame not because of skill, but because they've been on screen, perhaps even multiple times. Not to say they're all talentless nubs, no. But I don't think Americans leave the theatre thinking "Well gee. Did you see his facial expression when the old man fell off the bridge. I mean... It was so raw. Like he was actually feeling it."


I'm sorry.

People keep seeing their movies because they keep appearing in movies. They like them because they're familiar faces, talent or no talent doesn't seem to matter.

Nicholas Cage. Case and point.

I'm not intending to be rude. I feel comfortable jabbing the knife and twisting it into the pompous hearts of the unappreciators because I've been there. It wasn't until recently that I found myself suddenly detached from a movie for a moment to admire the way the emotion was splayed on the face. In fact, during a particular episode of Family Ties (as viewed on Netfilx) I had to re-watch a snippet of a scene at least eight times to thoroughly soak in Michael J. Fox's face upon realizing he was in love. It was incredible, the an awakening...

But I digress.

People expect the actor to entertain, not to bring the emotion of life to a tangible level. As a self-proclaimed actor I have suffered un-intended ridicule at the hands of my lesser informed peers. At work one day I had to go ask the Bakery Boys in the back for their mop. As I left the girl I was working with told me "You're an actress Erica. You can do it."

To understand why I was fragmentarily offended, you have to understand what "you're an actress" means to me, an actress.

I in no way shape or form indulge or accept the idea of acting in everyday life. By this I mean what is commonly known as "being fake". IE, if I don't like a person -if there's just something about them that leaves and ill taste in my mouth- I don't run up to them when I see them and hug them and ask them animatedly about their cat. I know people like that -I doubt that you don't as well- and they thoroughly disgust me. I try to be straightforward without being brutally honest. If I don't like a person I don't treat them like my best friend to their face, but I also don't openly say "I don't like you. Bluntly, I hate you." I simply avoid them. And if they scamper up to me I tolerate them until they're gone, all the while not being overly kind, but not being mean.

Putting on a show of kindness for someone you detest, that to me is acting. That to me is the amateur, false, any-body-can-do-it method that for some reason has survived the test of time. I do not practice this method, and when people expect me to pull falseness out of a hat (such as the Bakery Boy scenario -to "act" in real life) I can't help but be offended that they label my 'profession' among that of the mudslingers.

This post wasn't going to be a high-horsed account on what is acting or not. I actually sat down pondering the idea of writing a monologue play about the misconceptions of a stage performer -mainly the actor. No offense to my more musically inclined friend, but I feel the art of acting is second banana to a good singing voice in this po-dunk state.

I think that's why I want to live out of state. And it's most certainly why I want to own my own theatre. I want to give the actor a chance. I want to give the actor the hope that their talent can be expressed in places more relevant than facades on the street. I want to make a name, not for myself, but for the actors who have fallen to mal-information and labels.

I want to give the Michael J. Foxes a chance, in order to slowly rid the world of Nicholas Cages.

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