Sunday, July 15, 2012
In flagrante stultitia
The fear of looking foolish must be vanquished by the actor. It is one of the critical inhibitions of the ego personality, and in order to transcend it and play freely and fearlessly, you simply have to break out of the box. That doesn't necessarily mean that shyness never shows its face again. (I'm prone to bashfulness myself.) But if the inhibition is in charge, it shackles you as an actor. You have to be able to overthrow it and risk appearing completely foolish.
Last night, I saw such an exuberant demonstration of this freedom that I fell about laughing for quite a while. It is a story I will be sharing for years to come.
For a couple of hours before our performance of Romeo and Juliet, the Corsini garden is open to the public, with cocktails and aperitivo served. As a bit of pre-show spectacle, we practice parts of the fights in view of the audience. It whets their appetite to catch a glimpse of the costumes and the weapons, and see some of the choreography. This includes several children who are part of the cast; they open the show, in fact, with a brawl using wooden swords.
Jason, the fight director, and I are both staying with an Italian mom and her 10-year old son, Andreia. Andreia takes part in the theatre camps and is part of the show's child ensemble. He enjoys theatre very much, and is among the least inhibited of the bunch.
On an impulse, Jason asked Andreia to go out on stage alone, and go through his fight choreography with an imaginary partner. With some translation, Andreia understood the request, shrugged, grabbed his wooden sword and took the stage. He then burst into a sequence of combat moves, wooshing his sword around his body and thwarting blows, like a ninja whirlwind. He moved like a berserker, and finished his sequence with his arms thrust high over his head, facing the audience, announcing at the top of his voice and speaking in English: "I AM STUPID!"
Jason and I rolled on the ground with delight.
When Andreia returned to our staging area, Jason said to the child, "You are my hero."
[Image: Andreia, foreground, holding his sword over his head.]