Guilty as charged

December 18, 2012

Someone here said that during work there was no time for discussion. Oh, yes! That I understand: To get all the pleasure out of appearances, you still need to be granted the honor of participating in an intellectual exchange of opinions, concepts, and so on. Stanislavsky analyzed this kind of need in the actor. During the rehearsals of Tartuffe, his last performance, he said: “Notice during the second or third rehearsal that the actor who had expressed the most brilliant concept will be then the most paralyzed, most barren, and laziest in the work.” Why? Because he verbalized this whole concept just in order to avoid work.

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In starting with a small element, a role one wants to play, one opens several problems of belonging, of appearance of the character, of incantation, of our ties, of our baggage, all this appears, and along with this appears the classical question of one’s craft. What is it – the role? You? A role model? But if you come from a place where the role is convincingly played either in practice somehow or in the abstract, it is that which is the true source of the character. You are from there, from some time, from some place. It’s not a matter of playing the role of somebody who you are not. So in all this work one goes always more toward the beginning, more to “stand in the beginning”.

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Improvisation…. First, one needs to see the banalities, the clichés which appear. There are banalities of work on improvisation, just as there are banalities of work on forms and structures. Some common clichés: to make “savages”, to imitate trances, to overuse the arms and hands, to form processions, to carry someone in a procession, to play a scapegoat and his persecutors, to console a victim, to perform simplicity confused with irresponsible behavior, to present one’s own clichés of behavior, social daily-life behavior, as if they were naturalness (so to speak, to conduct oneself as if in a bistro). So in order to come into a valid improvisation, we should begin by eliminating all of those banalities plus several others. Then maybe something will appear: for example it will appear that contact is not possible if you are not capable of refusing contact. It’s the question of connection and of disconnection.

If I boast of questing for a reconciliation with myself, and of seeking a totality which would put an end to my division into body and soul, sex and intellect, it amounts to saying that I refuse any longer to feel apart from my own body, my own instinct, my own unconscious, that is, from my own spontaneity. The trouble is that spontaneity could end in a lying spectacle, a trivial vision of false savages in a forest or of human four-legged beasts howling and biting the rumps of their partners. Spontaneity to be truly spontaneous is to allow free rein to the profound flux which rises from my whole experience, even physical, but related to my consciousness, for how could I cut myself off from my consciousness even in order to rediscover my spontaneity? I am as I am, as far away from mechanics as from chaos: between the two shores of my precision, I allow the river, which comes out of the authenticity of my experience, to advance, slowly or rapidly.

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I would like to return to the problem of subjectivism. It is a very delicate problem. I think, for example, that it is very dangerous to “play for the audience”. I also think that if in one’s creation there is no absolute subjectivity, then it is not vital. But if in the presence of others this subjectivity does not transform itself into an objective fact, then there is no creation at all. I don’t mean—I repeat—that one should play for the audience. The point is that if we don’t lie to ourselves, then it is objective. But it is a delicate matter. Not for spectators, but in their presence. Not without subjectivity, but objectively as a human fact. It is simply a matter of whether we truly worked or only lied to ourselves. When one plays facing the spectator, one accepts the spectator as an “organic” part. When an actor wants to play for the spectator, she expects laughter and applause; then she falsifies the process, she no longer struggles to discover something in herself, but only struggles to be accepted. In all creation the medium is one’s own life. So one cannot create in somebody else’s name. One can only expose one’s own life, and that’s why creation can only be subjective. But one can also believe very strongly in one’s own sincerity while fooling oneself. When others are involved in a situation, the center of action becomes objective, it is difficult to fool oneself. In the presence of others, that which is your life begins to function as something objective. What is this objective fact? The point is not whether it is likable. The point is that it touches people. Most often they react against great creations. But this means that they are not indifferent. This is what I call an objective fact: that this, which came into being facing those around you, wasn’t without meaning; that it really came into being as a fact of life. They may like it or may be against it. Yet it has become a fact. In this sense, creation does not exist without objectivity. It is very important not to confuse two things: playing facing and playing for others. Those you act upon may accept something not because it is a work of art, but for other reasons… After all, it also happens that spectators applaud something silly and flat that doesn’t reveal anything in people, which doesn’t reveal anything about life, which merely repeats certain stereotypes. Trivial, funny things. Today we clap, tomorrow we forget. It is not an objective fact; nobody will think of it tomorrow. It did not enter someone’s life. It wasn’t a fact of life.