Thursday, July 23, 2009

Still A Kiss, After All These Years...

The pattern continues. One of my first ever posts, A Kiss is Still a Kiss, about the stage kiss, continues to be one of the most popular in the 4 year history of Always Off Book. So much so, that not one but two more comments were left on it in just the last hour. It warrants it's own posting.

To begin with, a first. "Flaming_Chaos" became the first person seeking advice on stage-kissing to actually write back later and tell me how it went. Her first kiss was with another girl, and a very shy one, so some slight of hand and masking was needed. But, it seems it went well. You can see her post on the comments section of the original article. Congratulations to her and her partner in the scene!

Then, we have another "Anonymous" post, who posed some interesting kiss related subjects of her own with this comment...

Hi there. I just found this on a google, and I am really appreciative for your comments. I will be performing my first stage kiss in a couple weeks, and we've already kissed a few times in rehearsals. And I'm feeling ... really weird. Your comments really helped. For one thing, I haven't kissed anyone but my husband for a very, very long time. I am feeling a bit of guilt in my heart, even thought a) I know in my head that this is what has to be done and it's not a big deal; only it is a big deal to me, and b) he's a great friend, and I feel strange; incestuous is not the right word, but close. But I feel my director is handling it great, as we've been directed to rehearse the kiss from the get go. And I must agree that doing it that way, rather than waiting till the very last minute is certainly the way to go if you want to actually pull off the scene realistically. I also think the real kiss rather than faking it is the right way to go if this particular scene is to be taken seriously. Interestingly, my husband is not the jealous type, and he's not upset. His girlfriend is also my friend, and she's been great, too. He's also been really normal about the whole thing. It seems to be just me feeling the guilt. How do you recommend I sort of process that?

Another question. Um. What if you run into a good kisser? Our kiss is not a make out session, so I'm not really coming away going, wow, HELLO. But in theory, if someone's a good kisser, you're having a real kissing scene, you're acting like you enjoy it, which is not a stretch if you're actually enjoying it. How on earth does one process that?! I'm having *sigh* guilt. It's always been one of those actor things I didn't think I'd ever run into. I just ignored it. And now here I am and, well, yeah.

If you're still reading comments from this post, then I look forward to your reply. If not, then I guess I'm talking to myself, here. Either way, this post has really helped me. Thank you!

It is a common fear I think, to be swept up in unexpected pleasure during such scenes. But as I have stated in previous retrospective posts on this subject, that sort of thing is rare if the people involved are paying attention to their job, and telling the story. Again the more it is done, the more bored they are likely to become, and less "turned on" they will be. I posted my overall response to the most recent anonymous on the original thread, but in case it was missed, I will include it here as well, as it bears repeating. Here it is...

My suggestion about the guilt is to just relax. This is not a brain thing, or else your mind would just tell you there is nothing to be guilty about, and it would all go away. Since that is obviously not going to help, what you have to do is just be a more relaxed person about it overall.

Do this by focusing on the character. On what needs to be happening. Do whatever it is you do personally when you want to be relaxed about anything else in the world. Once you calm down, and can think about the kiss without feeling the physical symptoms of this guilt (and you know what they are) you will find the guilt is also going away. Just run it in your mind as much as you can, free of the guilty feeling.

My guess is that this feeling of guilt comes from a but of insecurity about doing this. Look into yourself and find the confidence to believe that you are telling a story, and telling it well. That it is pretend, and nothing more.

I am sure you have seen romantic movies and enjoy the romantic moments in them. Do those make you feel guilty? If not, just see this play as one of those movies, only you are telling the story, and not a famous person.

As for running into a good kisser, it is an interesting topic, but one I think people probably assume too much about. Assuming that you happen to be partnered with a good kisser, whose good kissing survives even into his acting (which does not always happen), you are not likely to be distracted by it, if you are focused on your job...telling the story of the scene you are in. It's all very utilitarian on stage, and if you just remain committed to your art and your job in the scene, you won't have to worry about being swept away.

Again it is about the scene. I have been straddled on stage by a friend of mine before, and really the main thing on my mind was how to block the scene so that it looked right.

We can acknowledge a good kiss as a matter of technique, without being overwhelmed by it. Just as we can a well constructed fight scene.

And if you do enjoy a kiss, it is not problematic, unless you do allow it to affect the scene you are in. But truly, I feel that such moments, where kissing another actor envelopes you in joy because it is so well done, happen only in the movies.

(Do you think this may also be part of why you are so guilty...fear that you may enjoy a kiss? )

Please let me know how it all goes. Of all the comments on this post nobody has ever written back to let me know how the show went. I would very much like to know.

And I do hope to hear about it!

Kissing will always have the potential to be tricky, awkward, and sometimes scary business for the actor of all stripes. The key, as always, is to remember it is all part of the art and mechanics of a scene. Confidence in one's ability, a good director, and a willingness to dive right in with no nonsense attached remain the keys to getting over this very common hitch for the performer.

It's tempting to slip out of character more when kissing than any other time. Hone in one who you are portraying and how THEY would feel about a kiss. If you can do that as an actor, you are exactly where you need to be.

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