April 20, 2008


Ato Essandoh

I absolutely agree. Watching an actor piss away hours of rehearsal time saying things like "I don't think my character would do that…" is maddening. By the way, who is this “character” that they keep talking about anyway? And how do you know they wouldn’t do what the director is asking? As a matter fact can we just save time and hire this character dude instead of you? That said, I understand, and have endured a bad director or two, but as Mac said, a bad director translates to a bad production- therefore you should either quit or persevere (I choose quit).
All that said, I find that the actors who engage in the behavior described above are, for the most part, insecure and sometimes, simply talent-less. Moreover, these tend to be actors who have been deluded into thinking that their “process” trumps all other aspects of the production. Process in this case is just a polite way to describe self-indulgence. Self-indulgence is just a polite way to describe shitty acting. Shitty actors are every bit as dangerous to the production as a shitty directors and must be stopped. Shit begets shit. Good post man. Fight the good fight.

Joshua James

Nice post.

I think it was David Mamet who said, moaning as he walked out of a strife filled rehearsal room . . . "If only they would just SAY THE LINES!"

I don't like directors who like to "teach actors how to act" - http://writerjoshuajames.com/dailydojo/?p=73 - I think it's better to hire actors who are already good at that.

But it works the other way, too . . . when actors don't even attempt what's written and from the get-go reinterpret what was written for their own edification . . . it's a disservice to the writing, the directing, the other actors and more importantly, to the audience. - http://writerjoshuajames.com/dailydojo/?p=61


"Oh would some power the giftie give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion."

-Robert Burns

Rehearsal's as good a chance for this as any.


Dare I say, it can go the other way for directors and playwrights as well? Not every suggestion by actors is stupid.

I think the show is best served is everyone tries to check their ego at the door. Though in practice that's often a difficult thing for most.


Tony, I would agree with that. I didn't address that aspect in my post because it's entirely anecdotal, and I haven't yet worked with a director who regarded all (or any) actor suggestions as stupid.

As a playwright, I give a full hearing to actor suggestions for line changes, and in many cases make the changes, though I do reserve final call on those matters for myself. I think that's the best balance of power in these situations.

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