Actors are pretty damn cool. I didn’t fully appreciate that until this one audition.
It was for a ten minute play festival, and I was one of the directors. All the directors sat down, and groups of actors would come in to audition together. Directors had the option of making requests.
One of the other directors needed an actor who would act like a dog.
Group after group came in, and this director would request actors perform a scene, but instead of saying the lines, they had to act the lines out like a dog would. Actor after actor ran with this direction. They got down on their hand and knees. They whimpered and barked the way a dog would.
The actors in the scenes with these dog-actors rolled with it as well. There was head-patting, there was reacting to the dog noises, there was speaking in a higher-pitched voice (the way people do when talking to a cute dog).
I then went home and started binging some shows on Netflix (as one does).
And I realised . . . on these TV shows, the actors were doing similarly ridiculous things. Or, they were leaning into their roles in a very serious way. Klingons on Star Trek? So serious, but so much commitment to the rule is needed to pull it off.
Then, I started working with the actors for the ten minute play festival. I was directing a play where a “gorilla” came in and beat up our main character. Oh, and our main character had to pretend to die in many over the top ways. OH! And we had a giant pirate fight.
The actors? They just rolled with this script, and they rolled with the directions. It was over the top, but there was no holding back—they were actors.
About a year later, I watched actors memorise and bring to life a script I wrote. You know what? It was, officially, one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. I was on set with actors. The actors walked around with a script (that I wrote), going over their lines (that I wrote). Then, they got ready to act the lines for the camera (lines that I wrote). And you know what? When they acted the lines, it was better than I ever could have imagined the lines going.
These actors just committed to the role, brought it to life, and rolled with the scene.
That ten minute play festival was when I realised . . . actors are pretty damn cool.
When actors receive directions, they take them and bring them to life. If the scripts says act like a dog, they act like a dog. If the script says scream, they scream. If someone puts heavy layers of makeup on them and says they’re now an alien, you know what? They are now an alien and they have zero reservations.
No matter what, actors bring the script and the characters to life. They don’t care if it makes them look silly, or evil, or anything. They just do it.
Actors some of the least self-conscious people, as their profession demands them to be. And, yes, acting is a serious job that takes a lot of work.
Working with actors is extremely rewarding because they can bring things to life normal humans can’t. I mean, if a non-actor was given some of the directions listed above, would they be able to do it?
I doubt it.
Since that ten minute play festival, I’ve had a new appreciation for the actors I work with. I have a new appreciation for the actors I watch on television. I have a new appreciation for actors in general.
You know why? Because actors are pretty damn cool.