Monday, August 18, 2008

Speak the Speech...

Just some short thoughts this week on the old conundrum of which is more important for a fine performance...good acting or good writing.

Obviously, the ideal performance will have both. But a surprising number of actors will say that a good script is the main cause for a great performance they give at any given time. And while I agree that having good material is crucial, I am really not sure I have ever been prepared to give the script as much credit for great acting as my colleagues do. (To hear some talk, its 80% of a performance.)

I would be charitable if I said it was 55-45 in favor of script. I say that si true with the best of scripts...there are certain lines and certain speeches that naturally bring out a better performance from an actor.

But note that I say "bring out". Not "create". For no matter how greatyour script is, it has to be brought to live be someone who has some semblence of what they are doing. Otherwise, it is literature, and not drama.

True. We have seen some of our best actors of both stage and screen in embarassing roles. Roles that are embarassing because, in the parlance of many a film critic, the actor is "given nothing to do", or "too little to work with". And certainly I can agree...being saddled with a bad script can make the process of a good performance more difficult. script is just words. It, by itself, cannot bring life to a poor performer. Ifyou do not believe me, which anyone, anywhere try to perform Shakespeare, without posessing some sort of acting prowess. Some of the greatest words ever written for the stage become down right painful to listen to and observe, when they come from the mouths of those who have no idea what they are doing. To me, a good script inbad hands, is worse than seeing true talent trying to being a bad script to life.

Indeed, I think the latter can be the sign of an actor who goes the extra mile...insisting on finding real life and depth where there is none provided.

In truth, writing and acting are equally important. But when one must be missing..give me a deciated talented actor with "little to work with" producing unexpected magic, through sheer will, then a hack trying to deliver a brilliant scene with another hack.

There is a reason they call the stage the actor's medium. That is it.

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