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March 24, 2009

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Elizabeth

Good question. I've been frustrated by this both as a director and an audience member. Very few things seem *live* any more. Sometimes I feel its because we may be have hit the limits of the Stanislavski system or that we've accepted a very limited view of what is "real" in regards to human behavior. But then I see some awesome performance that transcends the limits of "training" and realize there's more to it.

I find myself waiting for theater to *Occur* (god, I love that phrase) and am often disappointed that whatever force of alchemy it takes to make that singular event occur never happens. That moment to moment thing, the feeling that time and space have bent in the course of a moment to the point you could reach out and touch a molecule, is very rare. It takes a great deal of attention and presence.

It is hard.

Onstage you have to process information coming at you from the audience and your interaction with other actors, the set, the sound, all the given variables at any one moment within you and without, with a clarity or at least a commitment to accepting that input in the moment and then making some decision about those impulses' content and choosing exactly what is the right thing to do in a matter of seconds. We hardly ever do this consciously or very rarely.

To bring it back down a bit: I always think and communicate to the actors that when something is "set," that we're at least establishing where the bar is, the note we're trying to hit. We may exceed those limits at one point or we may find it hard to maintain that standard at any given moment of any given night, but we've established what the limits are, what we're willing to accept and call a performance.

I don't know that you can do that kind of work when you're working quickly. Putting up a show in six weeks seems antithetical to this, but maybe not. I'm not sure where the disconnect is, but I feel it and am constantly trying to understand it.

Paul Rekk

You know, maybe it's just the circles I run in, but I would say the theatre that I encounter runs about 50% attempting to establish permanence through a run and 50% embracing the fluidity of the show throughout the run. And I'm talking about 4-6 weekend runs, some of which the director is seeing almost every performance.

As a director (and writer, for that matter), I very firmly fall in the camp that a show should be different every night. Stasis is false to me. However, as an actor I am willing to play the permanence game with those who are going that route, mainly because I don't see this a wall to rail against. There's already a wide spectrum of ways people are approaching this topic (again, at least in Non-Equity Chicago, there is). I wouldn't say anything about the choice 'we've' made, because it doesn't appear to me that any choice has been made.

And that's awesome.

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