Developing Time on Stage
Several things had to be made clear for this to work. First, the actor has to tell the audience everything that is in his head. This does not mean a constant brash declaration of emotion, but rather a steady stream of consciousness depicted by a thousand different changes of attitude, constant animations, changes in pace, rhythm and atmosphere. The actor has to have a very clear thought process – almost a complete text which, while it changes nightly, follows very much the same lines. The animation is constant, and the control of the breath is vital. Such subtle work requires the actor to communicate principally through the minute changes in the torso, which controls the breath, carries the head, and is the instigator of expressing true thought. Emotional truth, when expressed purely physically, starts at the sternum and works outwards. Imagine seeing someone you love walk into a room. The impulse for you to stand to greet this person will come from the chest, radiating outwards, ﬁnding ﬁnal expression in the manipulation of ﬁngers or objects in hand – clothes, hair etc. So the psychological journey a mask character goes on – and therefore that of the audience – is communicated by the continuous depiction of realisations, decisions and actions. If you were to listen to the actor’s internal monologue, it would sound like verbal diarrhoea, but without it, the mask would not have the strength to hold the audience. And of
course, if the actor does not tell the audience everything, then it will die very quickly.