One of the nice perks of working at Pixar (did I mention I work at Pixar? I don’t usually bring it up, since it rarely has anything to do with my blog) is a constant stream of classes, speakers, and first run movies that are available to employees at no cost. Last week, hosted by the Emeryville Center for the Arts, writer/performer Tim Crouch gave an introduction to the driving ideas behind his work, work that I’ve been completely unfamiliar with, but, as it turns out, is very much in line with my own aesthetic.
Crouch takes issue with what is largely accepted as the craft of “acting”. The punching bag he uses for this presentation is Howard Schatz’s twee coffee table tome “In Character: Actors Acting“, or, more accurately, “Actors Mugging”. Despite the largely celebratory reviews, Crouch quite rightly believes that this is only acting in the most impoverished sense of the word. For each photo, the subject is given a brief description of a situation, and then, using only their face, “act” that scenario. Hardly a promising setup, though beautifully photographed, the results are so gratuitously on the nose that the smilie at the end of this sentence feels like a more genuine expression of feeling. 🙂
One by one, Crouch would project these schmacting heads onto the main Pixar screen and read aloud the sentence that informed this particular ‘performance’, each absurdly specific and kinda stupid, possible candidates for this year’s Bulwer-Lytton prize. But Crouch has an insight… if you read a different sentence from the one that triggered the image, boom! All of a sudden, it’s INTERESTING. There’s confusion, ambiguity, and you as an audience member are forced to wonder… why? Continue Reading