Well, today is Friday the 14th of Septembre, and as of tomorrow we are getting into run-throughs of Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming".
The director, Paul Angelo, who I trust implicitly after having worked with in three processes now (as co-actor as well as director), gave a great piece of advice at rehearsal on Wednesday: With Pinter, we can have whatever inner landscape we choose. That is great for an actor to hear. Next, with Pinter, we can show NONE of it, explicitly. That's the kicker, right there. WHAT!?
We can show NONE of it (except in the eyes, of course).
How do you do this??
The film of The Homecoming is flat, although it's cast with brilliant actors including Ian Holm--the priest in The Fifth Element. Why was the film flat, you ask? Well, most likely because these actors were tackling the same problem we're now dealing with 40 years later in our production: Pinter's play is enigmatic, and is designed to be. If you spell it out, it ruins it. If you play it flat, it ruins it.
It is the ultimate acting exercise, designed by an actor himself. You must be brimming with emotion and subtext, while appearing cool and collected on the outside. This is beginning to show itself a THEATRE exercise, and not a film exercise. Film requires such subtlety anyway, that to engage in this exercise can prove it to fall flat.
The BBC radio play was epic! Vocally, the actors were able to express themselves quite clearly.
The answer is not simple. But it is doable I think. I need to be boiling over with subtext that is clear and distilled, while attempting to hide that overflow with a mask of calm stillness. Does that make sense? It's an actor's wet dream/nightmare!
Thanks, Harold, once again. For making the theatre a worthwhile endeavor.