More on that ‘moment’ we’re supposed to be in …

16 April, 2008 by No Comments

I’ve written before about one of those phrases tossed round by acting folk: being in the moment. I recall the brilliant Dawn French using it in that sweet comedy series The Vicar of Dibley. ‘Geraldine’ was directing the parish’s nativity play. She’d dropped her vicarly garb, and was dressed in requisite directorial kit. All was not going well, so she asked the cast to ‘take a moment to take a moment’ to get into character. Not sure how many general public would have got the nuances of the jargon …

But, being in the moment extends to more than just the actor as character in performance, something that ‘Geraldine’ understood, and which much acting training tends sometimes to over-emphasise. I’m reminded as I noted in that earlier post of how the moment is also filled by the actor’s constant scoping of what’s happening on stage … in the auditorium, drifting in and out of a character’s consciousness … those lovely, fleeting but deeply felt moments of ‘being a character.’ If you could run a video of the actor’s awareness it would most probably screen as a sequence of random, abstracted images with a camera’s point of view of the action; the soundtrack would consist of dialogue and probably the silent sub-text and interior monologues … those of the character and those of the actor as s/he preps a moment of action.

And of course that moment extends during the final dress rehearsals and performance season to the actor’s daily life … off stage. Fleeting, random snatches of moments, lines, notes to self , images flit through the consciousness. These can be distracting but they need to be accepted and seen in the context of the whole creative process.

And speaking of moments and creative process … I’m splitting my attention this week as I work for a few hours each day on another production with my students. It’s a first, major public production for them, and part of my job is to assist them to make the transition from acting studio to rehearsal room, and then the stage … to learn how to put their developing skills to work on the job. It’s a project I relish, and yes it is distracting me from that other mind-chatter that is demanding my attention … work on role in a production that opens this week … tomorrow in fact!