Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Onion


symmimex said...

Brian, this is funny! The thing is, although Americans may not "know" enough about commedia characters in order to "favor" one or the other, a poll might be designed to measure how they favor character-types influenced by commedia dell'arte.

As you often illustrate through your postings, commedia, as it is often performed nowadays, fails to present it "favorably." What audiences experience is much less than what commedia can be.

One wonders what is at fault - actors, audience, medium? What do you think?

Brian Foley said...

I think the teachers are at fault. There are very few teachers of clown, and even fewer teachers of commedia who approach the work with the audience in mind. (Good teachers ARE out there...I've found them.) The experience of the performer is put on a pedestal, as opposed to giving the performer a set of tools to use in his/her job as a vessel to transmit a living experience to the audience.

When the experience of the performer (or in this case, the student or CLIENT of the teacher) is put first (not bad business acting classes, those who can, DO. Those who can't, continually take classes) the CLIENT wants to return again and again...because that transformative experience is unique to the safe space of the classroom. It cannot be repeated in the dangerous, vulnerable space of the stage before a paying audience...well, it can, but nobody wants to watch it. And you'll feel the palpable loathing of the audience.

Doing this stuff well is really hard work, and it's selfless work. It's cruel work--you must give and give and share all of yourself with nothing expected in return. Not too many people are willing to go there.

Even fewer teachers are willing to ask students to go there, because it's less fun that making yourself feel good (and you won't keep your student base).

Acting/Clown/Commedia classes (IN GENERAL) do not want to give students techniques they can use and prosper with. They want to create a mystical, magical space where anything can happen, but the path taken MUST be heavily disguised and mythologized in order to keep the students coming back for more.

The quickest way to learn this stuff is to quit your job, go out on the street or in a public park, perform, and see how much money you make at the end. If you have pleased your audience, you will eat that night. If you have not, you will go hungry. You'll learn REAL FAST what works and what doesn't.