On Fear and the core of transformation

The last rehearsals of Oleanna and my subsequent teaching in Acting I has distilled some thoughts for me that I would like to share with you here.


The great actor Jack Lemmon said that in order to satisfy an audience an actor must be vulnerable.  My current thinking is that it goes deeper than mere satisfaction.   Many actors are afraid when they walk upon a stage.  What are they/we afraid of?  Of judgment, of failure, of letting their company mates down, etc.  In a discussion with some of my classes what seems to hold water is that if you trace this fear back far enough you come to a fundamental terror of  doing so badly upon the stage that we as people become unlovable and doomed to die alone.  And I think that in this there is something worth examination.


Most people who attend the theatre would never be able to get up upon a stage.  Moreover most people have very few, if any, relationships in their lives where they are 'comfortable' being fulling exposed, at risk, or to reference Mr. Lemmon, vulnerable.


It occurs to me that this vulnerability, the requirement of the actor to be fully available, the best and the worst of each of them, at any and all times in the presence of an audience is perhaps ultimately the thing that grants to an audience the possibility of transformation.


These thoughts may not yet be fully formed, but my experiences bringing Oleanna to performance as well as the work and teaching begin done in my Acting I and Acting Shakespeare classes seem to support that this fundamental presentation of the bare, forked, unaccommodated fragility of all of us is the fuel that great plays make use of in the service of our audiences.