18 December, 2005

Seeing the Big Picture

    In my admittedly limited experience in the theatre world, I have observed three different types of actors: the egomaniacal actor, the workcentric actor, and the big picture actor.
    The first -- and most annoying and aggravating -- is that narcissistic, egocentric, drama queen who must have the leading part.  He views all other parts (most especially chorus or ensemble parts) as wholly inferior and nearly pointless.  As such, when he gets these "inferior" parts -- which, because of his attitude, he usually does -- he complains and moans throughout the entire rehearsal process (and sometimes the run of the show) and does not perform to the best of his ability.  This is the type of actor I would dearly love to slap upside the head and tell to get over himself, that the show is about more than just him.  Of course, even if I did this, he wouldn't listen.  It would just serve as more fodder for complaint.
    The second type -- the category that most actors fall into -- is the kind who will take any work that comes to him: chorus, ensemble, featured, supporting, or lead.  He would, of course, rather have the leading role, but smaller roles are fine too -- just as long as he is working.  He still sees the leading role as the most important, but will take the smaller roles if he must.  He is much like the egomaniacal drama queen in that he, also, sees the non-leading roles as unimportant -- throw-away parts.  Because of this, when "stuck" with the smaller roles, this actor will also give less than his best.
    The third -- and most rare -- type of actor sees the show as a whole and his character's role in the show's context.  He sees that without his part the show, though it may not fall, the show will be drastically altered.  What is Pippin without its players?  West Side Story without its Jets or Sharks?  Les Miserables without its idealistic students?  Less than nothing.   What is My Fair Lady without Zoltan Karparthy?  Parade without Newt Lee?  Sweeney Todd without the Beggar Woman?  Cookie-cutter stories with trite endings.
    The actor who sees the big picture and his character's role within that picture is the actor who works the hardest and brings his character to life with energy and depth.  This is the actor that can make or break a show.  This is the actor that directors want to cast.
    This is the actor I aspire to be.


  1. In my jr. theatre we where all taught to be big picture actors. If you weren't then you got kicked out. Pretty cool actaully. There's always going to be some who that message will never get through to though. And that's sad, but there's not much you can do. blah blha

    (this is Kendra by the by)

  2. And then there's the Bean: the direct opposite of the egomaniacal actor. The actor who has the lead in the hottest ticket on Broadway and is playing one of the greatest roles, and yet would rather return to the ensemble of Hairspray. *g*

  3. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! I love you, Katie. Perhaps I should amend my post. *g*