Saturday, October 26, 2013
What actors do
A few of my theater friends have expressed the opinion that standing ovations are far too common. I agree. If every play gets a standing O it doesn’t mean a thing. It should be reserved for shows that move you out of your seat through their sheer power—the power for laugher, of tears, of awe.
On the other hand, you can’t applaud enough for the people who put on shows—especially in community theater where they get paid little or nothing.
What it is that actors do is truly astounding. They become a people other than who they are for two hours every night. Try convincing hundreds of people that you are King Henry V or Cleopatra or Atticus Finch, and try doing it while projecting your voice to the back row and moving with gestures so big and broad that people on that far back row can clearly read your body language, and then try to do all of that in such a natural and comfortable manner that it seems you’re not acting at all. And let’s not forget that you have to memorize all those lines.
And let’s also not forget that actors don’t get to go home to have dinner with their families and then zone out watching mind-numbing crap on TV like the rest of us, and that they have to get up the next morning and go to their day job. Shit. These people are heroes. And the same can be said for all the people behind the stage who make it happen.
I thought about all of this while writing a review of a show that was good but not great and wishing I could give it a more glowing review. So I encourage everyone to get out and support your community theater. Give them a hand; that’s usually the only pay they get for all their hard work. But I’m still not going to be generous with standing ovations; so actors, if you see me standing in the audience and applauding you’ll know that by god I really mean it.