When From White Plains has its first audience on May 31st I will have lived in New York City for almost a year and a half. In that time I have worked primarily with graduate school colleagues-but have also had the opportunity to work with some very talented individuals who come from a completely different background. As an artist it is important to understand that everyone has a unique process, and just because that process is different from your own does not mean it is “bad” or “wrong.”
A major difference between my Brown/Trinity colleagues and my NYC collaborators is that my NYC friends spend far less time at the table when they’re working on a play. As I sat in on FWP rehearsal this afternoon I was reminded how important good table work is to me and my process. Director Michael Perlman was working with Karl Gregory and Jimmy King on a scene in which their characters are having an argument. Many actors, myself included, tend to fall easily into the trap of raging and screaming when they come across an argument scene. We desperately want to show how much we care, and tapping into anger is often the easiest way to express that. Without good table work a scene becomes one dimensional and stagnates. If the play doesn’t happen at the table it will never happen on its feet. Michael, Jimmy, and Karl were doing excellent table work. They closely examined the text and found many subtle shifts in intention and motivation which made the scene dynamic and interesting. They were not two characters in a play yelling at one another, but two human beings trying make each another understand their respective points of view. I believe that the search for truthful acting is not in mumbling or adopting a “natural” physicality, but in mining the text for clues that key into who my character is, what he wants, and his relationship to the other characters in the play. Only after I’ve done clear and specific text work do I have a foundation upon which to create a believable character. I think the four actors in this play would agree with me. I’ll see you at the theatre.