Show Off

I can’t tell if I’ve become more discerning about performance or if I’m just getting stupid. I attended a showcase of all the graduating actors for the drama program at USC, which was a new experience for me. I’ve never attended a showcase before: the undergraduate program that I attended didn’t have one, but then again it wasn’t located in an industry town where a showcase would make a great deal of difference.

And there’s a surprisingly small amount of overlap between the film school and the drama school, which is a shame because the two programs could be huge resources for each other. Although there were a handful of actors who I recognized from their on-screen appearances in films in class, which is always fun.

At any rate, I found myself watching from a casting perspective- as if this showcase were an audition using work that the actor was fully familiar with and had chosen as a way to show their strengths. Many of these performances were amazing, but every so often three would be a scene that I found myself struggling to understand: the words may have been perfectly clear ( but not always, there were a few times where dialogue affections made it difficult to keep up with the lines) but the point of the scene seemed to get lost. I wanted to know their objectives. I couldn’t see their actions. It was tricky to understand the subtext.

Oh god, I’m becoming one of those people.

But maybe that’s ok. I suspect that I wouldn’t be alone in finding a scene hard to follow, but that I have words to describe what was missing.

There were also a few times when I had to remind myself that acting for stage and acting for camera are quite different. It looks odd to have a scene between two characters in which they never look at one another because they’re facing the audience, for instance, but it makes (more) sense in a theatre. Or the fact that everybody seemed to man-spread every time they sat down, which is a way of making you’re stage presence seem bigger, but isn’t always a natural choice. It was doubly distracting when the sitter in question was facing the audience and wearing a skirt. Which happened. Twice. Or the fact that some of the scenes were so very presentational (as in, presenting a character instead of representing/embodying them) that it needed to be seen from thirty feet away in order to look natural ( great for a stage! Not great for a camera) that it was hard to read any nuance.

But here’s me going on about all the things that seemed like problems when the performances that will stick in mind are the ones that I couldn’t look away from- the ones where the inner clockwork was working and the lights were on that were fascinating to watch. Actors doing what they do best.

So it was fun and inspiring to see their work. I have a second, different showcase tomorrow that I’m looking forward to in order to compare the work. Now that I have an idea of what to expect I’ll look forward to seeing if I pick up on different things.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 27, 2016.

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