Friday, April 30, 2010

In Appreciation of Actors

At one of the theatres where I work, rehearsals are held in the same giant warehouse that holds props and costume storage and the small shop/workspace. It can be a pain at times becuase I really can't use the power tools when rehearsals are going on during the day, but when I am sitting and doing small craftwork and painting and anything else I can do quietly, I get to listen to rehearsals.
I love listening to really good actors rehearsing. The show they are rehearsing right now is a fairly fluff musical, but even something this straight forward takes really hard, very exact work on the part of the actors. Over the last week I have listened to discussions of vaudeville and the origins of some classic jokes, discussions of the how to deal with playing  an actor in a show within a show, and endless working of comedic bits. In order to work one joke the actors may run through the moment again and again, experimenting with which word gets the emphasis and where to put a pause. They may work 20 minutes on just three lines, but honestly, I find that 20 minutes of rehearsal almost more interesting than seeing a fully staged production.
Often as a technician, I run into people who don't understand what I do and assume that I wish I could be an actor. The truth is I love what I do, and can't imagine doing anything else, but also, I wouldn't want to be an actor. What they do is really hard work. Actors face rejection after rejection and have to stay confident. They have to work every day to maintain their voices and their bodies so that they are ready for any requirements of any role. They put their emotions on the line night after night in front hundreds of strangers, and they have to make it look fresh and new even if they've been doing it 8 times a week for 2 months. I could never do what they do, I wouldn't want to, but I have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for the actors I work with.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice. I always joke that I would never want to be an actor because I like to work. And I don't say it because I think actors don't like to work, I just think it's a LOT easier for technicians to find steady work (even steady freelance work) than it is for actors, even good actors. I agree with all the points you make, about having to maintain their voices and body. I know as a costumer, I've gotten on actors cases about their weight (but only if they've been fluctuating), and I'd hate for my body to subject to such criticism. Finally, what I find to be the worst part of being an actor is the sheer amount of untalented, spoiled, self-centered, egotistical people who are drawn to it. It makes me appreciate the talented, professional ones so much more, but I find myself being more and more distant with all of them as a general rule to avoid the petty, self-serving attitudes the unfortunate majority of them have. Sigh.