Avoid the note of resignation which tends to creep into your attitude. Emotionally and vocally do not be resigned. Imagine you have lived 100 years, your eyes have looked out at the world for 100 years -- at the folly of the world -- you the fool, have looked at the world’s folly for an eternity. You see its reality. You are not resigned to it, yet years have taught you the folly of protest -- and so your ancient eyes stare straight at the realities while your tongue talks in riddles asking who is really the fool. “The world being what it is, do I insult a man by offering him my cockscomb?” (Welsford: The Fool)
The lack of imagination -- the actor’s creative faculty is frightening. Particularly appalling in that respect was last night’s rehearsal. The beginning of the working of the creative faculty is visualization, complete total visualization -- not only of the role you play but of the physical environment in which you play. You stand rooted in a foot of space as if that were the only space you inhabit. The women are particularly guilty of lack of visualization and Robin most particularly so. Regan is in her own castle, she is mistress of that castle. She runs that castle -- Lear has stormed into it, a tucket sounds, and Robin has to be forcibly pushed into another spot on stage. She doesn’t hear the tucket, she does not know its meaning, she makes no physical response to it whatsoever, she waits for a director to put her in place. Any sound of a trumpet has particular meaning in this dangerous age: an enemy army, friends, marauders, danger, festivity. It was wise to be on the alert for trumpets to go into action immediately. Goneril in her own castle did not know where her servants were stationed, where her attendants, guards, soldiers were, and so she stood in the middle of the room and shouted for Oswald. Visualize your environment, then create your environment and behave in your environment as human beings behave, not as sticks, stones, puppets.
Have you studied your roles and the play so little that you do not realize that after the opening scene, Lear is a passive agent in the drama? He is acted upon by the forces of Goneril, Regan, Edmund. They instigate all action. Everything after (1) originates in them. Last night it was appalling that Goneril and Regan stood and waited for Lear to act. Played this way, the burden on Lear is impossible for any actor to carry, for he has to create not only the emotion that he must have, his own inner forces, but he has to create the instigating stimuli. Let’s have no more of this kind of acting. Ask yourselves the questions which start your creative minds working, then get your bodies free to respond to: Where are you? Why are you there? Why did you come? From where? What’s your objective? Who are you going to achieve it with? What is your plan? What are the steps in your plans? When you have achieved the aimed objective, what is your next goal? Why? What is happening in the kingdom? What are going doing about it?