a woo-woo moment

A long time ago, in a land far away – wait, it was here in the Land of Enchantment (a monster digression, I’m now inspired to start a chat group, the Land of Enchatment and no I didn’t get much sleep last night I’ll start again). I’m meaning to write a bit about Myers-Briggs or whatever they’re calling it now (I who love and live and work in language have a bit of a problem with political-correctitude and what who wants to be called these days, which never turns out to be what ALL of a demographic want to be called which is part of my issue with it) – ohboy apparently today is Digressions ‘R’ Us. 

I began writing a few minutes ago to highlight multiple personalities as a tool for directors and actors and playwrights. I hasten to clarify that I’m not talking about Sybil-type multiple personalities, but rather what was introduced to me by a guy I was dating all those years ago. Interesting and alarming that this was how he vetted possible lovers: more interesting that I came up as the extremely rare type which matched his desire, less interesting that he didn’t live up to his end of the bargain – oy these digressions.

The long and short of it is, Myers-Briggs and Enneagrams and 16 Personalities and the like can be helpful when constructing character. Modern acting appears to favor actor-driven character work – bending the role to fit the actor, which is often the case because there are SO many well-trained actors right now that if one casts properly, the actor will play her/himself and the play will be deemed successful – this also pertains to the plethora of committee-written plays, playwrights who blurt something down on a page, have that first draft read aloud by actors in front of other writers, and rewrite according to what everybody thought, rinse, repeat – which is a great social exercise and not conducive to well-wrought drama, imho.

For a character-on-the-page to have a level of interior complexity, for the playwright to make high-level dialogue instead of mere conversation, one must seek and find a deep degree of understanding of what makes the character tick. I’m from an older school, one in which one finds within one’s self the elements with which to wright a play, tussles with its structure and stuffings and voice (as opposed to the odious “tone”) and ethics and humor, one in which actors are meant to embody the character on the page rather than fit it on like a dress, and it’s from this point of view that I offer these tools.

If you’re interested, I’ll leave you to unearth your own “personality test” – there are scads of them online. This post has more to do with my personal mission, to raise theater up into the next “naïve” cycle (and I’m unable to come up with a link to Paula Vogel‘s theory of theater, so go talk with someone who has studied with her – even me, if you know me in a share-air sort of way) and to do it via compassion and respect for audiences’ intelligence by adding geometry to form: Instead of dumbing down or mocking a play’s dramatic conflict, each of my characters carries their own. When one’s objective meets another character’s want, their mutual complexity forces unexpected yet entirely earned responses. From both characters and audience.

Yes, there’s a great flaming ball of compassion at the heart of my works. Not “ooh, I feel so sorry for you” but nonjudgmental empathy for each character doing unblemished activities you or I might not – or might have done and hidden – so that we can see ourselves clearly, and all evolve. Together.

Good luck! Have fun!

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©2017

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