My breakfast with Wallace

It seems to be performance week here at the blog!

Here’s an article by Wallace Shawn that just blew my mind. I know. Inconceivable, right? The article is also about Socialism – take that or leave it, as you wish. What really interested me, what punched me right in the stomach, was this:

We are not what we seem. We are more than what we seem. The actor knows that. And because the actor knows that hidden inside himself there’s a wizard and a king, he also knows that when he’s playing himself in his daily life, he’s playing a part, he’s performing, just as he’s performing when he plays a part on stage. He knows that when he’s on stage performing, he’s in a sense deceiving his friends in the audience less than he does in daily life, not more, because on stage he’s disclosing the parts of himself that in daily life he struggles to hide. He knows, in fact, that the role of himself is actually a rather small part, and that when he plays that part he must make an enormous effort to conceal the whole universe of possibilities that exists inside him.

Actors are treated as uncanny beings by non-actors because of the strange voyage into themselves that actors habitually make, traveling outside the small territory of traits that are seen by their daily acquaintances as “them.” Actors, in contrast, look at non-actors with a certain bewilderment, and secretly think: What an odd life those people lead! Doesn’t it get a bit — claustrophobic?

That’s how I feel about writing. That’s it exactly. All these latent potentials that real life has no room for, and they have to come out somewhere. They come out in dance, too. That’s one reason I can get up in front of people and dance: because I am also that. I am also a dragon trapped in human form, and a princess, and a fretful lawyer, and a little Porphyrian boy. It’s all there.

Sometimes I fret that I’m kind of out there for thinking all arts are one art, but then I read something like this and think, no, that’s exactly right.


One Comment on “My breakfast with Wallace”

  1. Susan Plett says:

    So well said. I couldn’t agree more.


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