As previously mentioned here, I used to be fairly involved in live theatre and it’s still an interest of mine. I would much prefer to see a live play or musical, than a movie. I’m currently reading one of the classic acting texts “Audition” by Michael Shurtleff. Michael was a broadway casting agent for years and this books aimed to help actors avoid the most common pitfalls he witnessed over his years in that role.
I’m re-reading it partly our of interest, but also to see what lessons I might derive from it for work or life. After all, if “all the world’s a stage”, the maybe the acting world has some actual lesson we can learn. I’m barely into his first of twelve “guideposts” and I’ve already found something interesting. In guidepost one Michael is saying how important it is for an actor to know their relationship to the other characters in the scene.
Frequently I will ask an actress after she has read a scene: “What is the relationship?” and she will answer “He’s my husband.” “So?” I ask.
She looks consternated. “He’s my husband” is as far as she’s taken it. It’s not far enough. The fact that you are married to a man tells nothing about how you feel toward him at this moment in the scene. (p.34).
Are you married or else in a significant relationship? Or, do you have a parent or sibling? How do you define your relationship to them? “Who is that?” “She’s my wife.”. That tells me nothing than perhaps your legal status. I don’t expect anyone to provide a deeper answer publicly, but could you provide anymore than a superficial response to your spouse, privately? “Who am I?”, they might ask. “You’re my wife, of course”, you answer.
What defines your relationship? What do you think and feel when you look or think of them?
The fact that two people are married, is a fact, not an emotion, not content. Shurtleff goes on to write: That is what you need to explore. That is why the fact of relationship is of no value to the other actor unless it leads him to explore the feelings in the relationship now. Not how it was when you got married, now how it was last week when he got a raise (although this information is of value in creating an emotional past to the relationship), but how you feel now. The now is the imperative question you must answer.
How man of us try and ride the wave of high emotion, only to stop paying attention and realize that the feelings we felt early on have faded or dulled? Some of this is natural, if it s a maturing love. Relationship will change as the high emotion of love changes to the choice of love; real love. If someone were to ask you (and it wasn’t weird for them to ask you for some reason; say a therapist) how you felt about your spouse, would you give a canned response, would you give a response you believe to be true, but is in fact outdated/ Do you know how you feel about each other? I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with a marriage if you can’t answer the question, but it might be time to really talk and do the work so you can answer it.
Find the love in the scene. One way or the other it’s there. Love affirmed or love deprived. It’s there.