what about the frame?

French

Nowadays, actors are so well-trained. They’re adept at living in-the-moment, moment-to-moment, acting on and responding to other actors. But what about the frame?

Maybe it’s the way plays are written in modernity, we’ve graduated from Kitchen Sink to Living Room, stakes are all interior, urgency is personal.

I’m talking about given circumstances, the world of the play, the larger arcs of beats and scenes and acts. I watch characters behave with loving care of their partners, turning on a dime to show the very real anguish of PTSD and returning to sweet consideration without so much as a by-your-leave. They perform credible sex-acts and immediately bound about with a kind of energy that ignores post-coital exhaustion. Or the play is clear that it’s the dead of winter with no heat and, when those lines are spoken, they huff and puff and rub their arms, but within moments slouch comfortably, half-dressed. They live inside a seduction, ignoring that they are in a public place and what’s at risk isn’t just embarrassment, it’s utter and total ruin in a society that offers no social services.

When did theater artists become so short-sighted? Is it MFAization? critical thinking which breaks everything down to its smallest common denominator but doesn’t rebuild into a cohesive whole? “Moment-to-moment” has ligatures for a reason.

Truly good acting and directing are immersed in and reflective of the whole shebang, not a string of adept but unrelated moments. In every play I see, I-the-audience am meant to remember the period, the weather, the societal mores.

Why aren’t the actors and directors?

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