HOW TO PLAY AN ICON IN 7 EASY STEPS
(or, how I lost my mind one day and agreed to play Mrs. Robinson)
Seriously. I’ve seen it of course, but I don’t watch anyone else’s performance of anything as preparation for my rehearsal process.
Iconic or not.
It’s simply not helpful to me as an actor.
My job is to be a creator, not a re-creator…
Anne had her chance, and this is mine.
In this case, the novel.
We’ve all seen a play or movie based on one of our favorite books — and we know that tough choices have to be made in the adaptation process. A lot gets left by the wayside in order to cram a novel’s world into a two hour-ish time frame.
But unlike a play written only as a play — I have a whole bible to go to, beyond the script of the play, to get extra clues on who this person is, how she sees herself, how she is seen by others and the choices she makes in order to navigate her world.
The reason this is known as an iconic role is because it rings with the human condition. There is a rich story here and at the end of the day,
I am a storyteller.
I get the chance to crawl inside this character’s skin and let her crawl inside mine and see what we bring to each other. Simple as that.
Anne Bancroft, I am not.
But Anne Bancroft I need not be.
My gift is to bring my whole unique self, my experiences, my outlook, my strengths and my vulnerabilities to the role.
Might there be similarities? Yes, if Anne and I both did our homework. There will be universal truths about this character that may manifest themselves in a similar fashion.
But the role as I play it WILL be different,
MUST be different, because I am different.
And if I bring my truth to it, I have to trust that the audience will see that and value my Mrs. Robinson as it’s own creation.
Lady M? Blanche Dubois? Mama Rose?Any actor would love to have a crack at those beauties.
Besides, most every coveted role has been played by someone else, somewhere else.
And the beauty and challenge of live theatre is that we get to
re-approach the same material and crack it open from a different perspective each time the show, or the role, is produced.
And it doesn’t diminish anyone else’s rendering – it just means I get to add my chapter to the book of Mrs. Robinson.
Bag&Baggage itself is a slayer of Icons.
I could not hope to be in better company.
I have the honor to wrestle with this great role in the supportive company of generous, committed, fearless actors and designers and directors and administrators and audience members.
Who could say no to that?
Whether it’s a grumpy old man obsessed with a whale or a disaffected, alcoholic housewife…don’t let the pressure of playing an ‘Icon’ prevent you from playing.
Because in the end, playing and failing and playing some more is the only way you find your way in.
Coo Coo Ca Choo…