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Ego acting up-date

After a couple of days, a couple of chats, and some very elaborate and excellent comments on my blog, I have come to some conclusion about the ego acting thing. I now know what I meant to say, and how it affects my life as an actor and director.

First of all, a big thank for all of the comments, keeping the issue alive in the old noggin, as I couldn’t let it go. It kept swirling around my head: was I worrying about something nonexistant? Was I trying to typify something that needed its own space to develop? However, yesterday, during a rehearsal, it dawned on me what the point of all this ego stuff was: the question isn’t whether, as an actor, you apply your ego to your work. The question is whether two people’s egos match, and it is the collaboration between the egos that makes the work so fascinating.

I realised this during a rehearsal for the current show I’m doing, and that I couldn’t align my ego with my director’s. I, as a director, like to work with big egos. I like the interaction, the ability to subsume my ego or to ask an actor to subsume theirs, and I have finally understood why: I have the self-confidence to accept live criticism. I like people questioning my thoughts and ideas in a rehearsal space, I like the discursive nature of such interactions, but can accept that not everyone does. The director I’m currently working with isn’t like that, and, although I had an initial sense of anger and disappointment yesterday, now that I’ve thought about it I do understand what this process is.

Does my method make me a better director? In my eyes, yes, but in real life and practically? Possibly. I don’t think I have the right to judge. At least I now know why I like interviews over auditions, a chance to know someone over a chance to see them act. However, I can also see how this approach can be dangerous: I’ve worked with actors before where I’ve liked their ego more than appreciated their talent, and all this ends me up with tight and powerful casts performing averagely. Just as my approach has flaws, wanting actors who will enter the rehearsal space and just do what you say is similarly constricting, and although the show looks and feels good, I feel underappreciated.

Every process has its flaws, and its good to know what you do, just as it is to recognise what others do. This is about ego, but its about everyone in a space collaborating, using their egos to make the experience inspiring and entertaining, while also working hard to create some exciting and fascinating theatre. I feel I’m more likely to want to create powerful and exciting stuff when I feel appreciated and understood, but maybe I just need to switch off and be an automaton for the master director. Does this make more sense? On which side of this metaphysical fence do you fall? Comments please!


One thought on “Ego acting up-date

  1. Personally the prospect of a cast who enter the rehearsal space and only do what i say makes me feel a bit sick. I want my actors to give me as much of themselves as they possibly can.

    I can totally relate to your feeling under appreciated. However, I do think it’s different horses for different courses. There are lots of different approaches to making theatre. If you are able to give the Director what they want and need I’m sure you’re incredibly appreciated by them and the team and the audience too.

    I am definitely on your side of the metaphysical fence though, for me it’s about collaboration too.


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