I’d like to start this post with a question that I had meant to ask during our discussion of Brechtian theater. We had discussed that one of the ways that Brechtian theater acknowledges Stanislavskian theater is by doubting it (or perhaps vise-versa)? In any case, I find myself slightly confused as an actor. I’ve always worked using the Stanislavskian method. The idea of finding truth behind your actions makes the most sense for me, as well as deriving actions from characters. Our Brechtian reading mentions the opposite- characters should be derived from their actions. I know that one of our goals with The Laramie Project is to approach it with a Brechtian style, but I feel that we are approaching the acting with a Stanislavskian approach. Am I wrong in thinking this? Is there something to be gained in this contradictory approach?
My next reflection is on the spectacular production of Angels in America. The entire event was a truly wonderful experience, and I’m grateful for our department for allowing this opportunity to occur. It was very cool to meet with the actors in between shows. I remember Prior mentioning how important is it to “forget” the lines and listen more, creating a more realistic and better scene. I appreciated his honesty in mentioning that it is certainly a risk, but one worth taking. I think this advice will be tremendously important in the Rob Debree vs. Aaron McKinney scene. It still blows my mind how many lines these performers had to memorize, especially if working under this philosophy- I have a tremendous admiration for their stamina.
Another thing that I gleaned from the production is how important and yet how subtle character shifts can be. The woman who played Hannah Pitt was extraordinarily convincing in all of her numerous roles. While costumes, props, and make-up play a big part in these transformations, she made subtle tweaks in her physicality and voice that did most of the work. I remember her saying in the talk back a very simple piece of advice: “I know where the doctor holds his head”. One of the biggest challenges for me in Laramie has been developing physical and vocal differences between my three major characters, all of whom are middle-aged white men in positions of power. I hope that in the next month, I will be able to reflect back on this performance and the advice that I’ve been given in order to uniquely distinguish these characters.