Starting with an idea, like The Other Acting School, has been about balancing two halves of a contradiction. It’s equal parts balance and volatility. One side is upholding a tradition of deep knowledge that our discipline has acquired from master teachers and directors. The other is overturning the assumptions we may have allowed to become our doctrine.
There is no doubt that our field is built on a foundation of “orthodox” assumptions. Sitting in script reading sessions in Los Angeles, the feedback often centers on what “should” happen or what a scene “needs.” These points are well-intended – but they also conform to tropes and expectations such as the timing of a plot point, when characters reveal their intentions, or the idea of “rising and falling action.”
These are modernist ideals and, though they are still relevant, can be (and have been) challenged in the most riveting ways by new writers. New writing demands new methods of performance. And performance is informing the writing process more as we move toward “story” and away from “literature.”
Our idea of the “self” is changing too. We acknowledge that we’re not consistent, linear beings. We’re a constellation of contradictory impulses. Our “character” is a construct that we create for ourselves. We’re not authoritatively written, but seemingly patched together from a collage of experiences, desires and instincts.
We need new performance methods to effectively capture and work within this new “self-portrait” of the human psyche.
It’s on the idea of a “postmodern” model of acting, that we’re building The Other Acting School. In the next few posts, we’ll be examining what postmodernism what might mean to actors. What assumptions do we carry about “postmodern art” and is there such a thing as “good” and “bad” art under this paradigm?
We’ll also be conversing about this with Mary Overlie, creator of The Viewpoints and a paragon of the postmodern art movement in the 70s Soho, NYC scene.