WARNING: The opinions expressed below are DEFINITELY those of The CoLab Theatre Company! Learn more at www.colabtheatre.org!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Morality of Acting Immorality

The words are burned into the script. Just a few minutes before, I didn’t know this eight page world existed. It could’ve been a novel, a film, a five act, three hour classical masterpiece. But instead, it runs no more than 8 minutes.

I received the script shortly after I accepted the part, casually, as I would any other project. The name generic, the title simple. I opened the pages with a fresh untouched mind. I encountered a young girl of a family utterly disconnected from reality. A father with expectations impossible. A sister who flees for safety. And a brother denied his childhood, reaching towards the only love he knows.

I realized who my character is. Or, more accurately, what he is… I attempt to commit an action, morally reprehensible and emotionally disturbing. A moment of weakness, of longing that manifests itself in a way that I don't think many people would've been prepared for.

An eight minute American beauty. An assortment of dark sides, critiques of the functional family. And yet, I’ve learned from past mistakes that an actor shouldn't critique. She doesn’t judge. He empathizes. We understand, and then we commit the action. The actor acts against what is obvious. Paraphrasing Stanislavski: “If you play a villain, find the good in him. If you play a hero, find the villain.”

This is one of the most vulnerable roles I’ve ever taken. Somehow, these eight minutes have condensed more complexity than most of the roles I’ve accepted thus far. I hesitate to even write what he does, partially due to the mystery of storytelling, but also due to my discomfort with the action. If this was a real individual, and I stood witness as a third party, I would condemn him. Many of us would paint him a pervert, a monster. At the very least, a predator.

Plato believed that the theatre corrupted society. Among his charges: that an actor who portrayed an evil character would learn and adopt corrupt characteristics. Of course, he probably would’ve made a terrible actor. In any case, I go forward with this challenge embracing my discomfort. If it scares me, I have to do it. I already feel like this might be one of the more important roles I’ve accepted. It won’t be the biggest, or the flashiest, or the most praised piece of work I ever do. But I think it’s important. Very important for me. Jim and I are evolving together, as I try stop trying to “understand” him, and just accept the reality of the play. When I walk down the street, I can look down on him. But from the moment I walk onstage, to the curtain call, I have to want something very disturbing. I have to want it with painful sincerity.

I have to be honest.

For more details about Kenny's show, My Sister is An Actress, please visit www.ganemeed.org or click on the link below:

Ties That Bind is free and open to the public. Patrons are invited to come for the 6pm performance of three ten minute plays.

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