Saturday, August 4, 2012


I suggested as a basis for characterization that Marvin draw on a personal experience.  I failed -- Marvin tried to act a memory.  You cannot act a memory.  You can only create a result with mind and emotion if you receive that experience.  
How do you start that re-living only by creating through recall every significant stimuli in that given situation.  I want to relive an experience which made me taste a defeat that made me need desperately to get drunk enough to stop suffering.  (My method of escape from suffering is not drink, but that does not matter -- the need for escape is the same.)  I recall: I sat down on a rough textured Victorian divan -- in the corner of the divan -- my fingers touched the rough texture of the seat as my left hand dropped at my side -- my bare right arm felt that rough texture as my arm fell on the arm of the settee.  I rubbed this texture not because I liked it but because the unpleasant friction made me feel -- in my fingers -- a sense of life, of living as against a chill within me, a silence within me that was a kind of death -- except for those fingers rubbing, I felt frozen.  I sat without moving, almost without breathing.  My eyes were wide-open, looking at a face opposite me -- the smiling, flabby face of a big man sitting at a big dark bare desk. His pudgy fingers were rubbing the bare wood.  I saw his greying, wavy hair.  I even thought “handsome head of hair.”  In response I saw small smiling jelly-like eyes looking straight into my staring ones.  I heard a smooth velvet low voice with cultivated modulations saying, almost caressing,  “But it is not our function to be psychiatrists,”  I felt strangled, I could not breathe, I felt that rough texture as I dug my fingers into the arm, I had to look away -- to escape with eyes at least out the window.  I saw feathery foliage on a tree -- I concentrated with all my will on foliage so that I would not scream.  I listened deliberately to sounds -- a girl’s laugh like Betty Cosman’s, clear and bright, and sudden footsteps outside -- a typewriter I made myself aware of and then I heard my own voice, level and even and quiet and toneless:  “But he tried to kill himself last night.”  I skip next to the moment I felt a doorknob in my hand, a safety lock I had to pull, the weight of the door.  I felt my feet walking.
I write this only to show you how an experience is relived only by recreating every stimulus -- as I look back now at the preceding page, I see a change in my writing.  Merely to remember that you were sad, happy, hurt, gay -- such memory is no use to the actor.  If that is the extent of your recall, it may be one more reason to question whether you are an actor -- an actor has the capacity to re-live, re-experience, re-spond to the stimuli that memory evolves.  If I can relive the experience I have told,  I will not only know what Jamie experiences, I will experience it.  I will have to escape in drink what he has to escape.  
If you have had nothing similar in your experience -- is not that another admission that you are dead and thus not capable of being an actor?  Because an actor sees more sharply, hears more clearly, touches, smells, kinesthetically responds.  His memories are more vivid, more living, more quickly and fully touched off when needed.  Are you alive?  Is so, why couldn’t you in “Henry IV” create a country torn by civil war?  Why in workshop must your director do all the creative work of thinking and feeling and imagining and responding?  Why can’t you create realities?  Why don’t your Saint Joan’s feel the mould of France as they walk, why don’t they see the sky over France, why don’t they see the soldiers of France sleeping, gambling, deserting?  Why?  Why?  Have James and Edwin heard, seen the sea?  Have they seen, heard their father?  Have they actually watched their mother’s hands, seen her eyes?  Has Kowalski seen the dives of N.Orleans?  Has he eaten steak half-raw?  What is reality?  How does the actor creatie it?

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