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  • 5 Simple Questions to Create a Performance

    Feelings are not your friend.
    I was working on a production of “The Glass Menagerie” many years ago in upstate New York. We were rehearsing Tom’s “drunk scene.” The director called up to the stage, “What are you two doing up there?”
    I shouted back, “Acting!”
    He said, “I know that. But I can’t understand anything.”
    The actor playing Laura yelled, “Do you need us to be louder?”
    He laughed and said, “No. Just better. I don’t know what’s going on.”
    Laura yelled back in fury, “What do you want? A spotlight on my tears?”
    The director started walking down the aisle. “No. But just so you know, I couldn’t tell you were crying. From back there it just looked like a mess.”
    Rude? Yes. Super rude? For sure. Right? Hmmm.
    The problem with harsh criticism is that you often never hear what is being said. It took years for me to unravel that moment and learn for myself what our director was telling us in a very nonproductive way: Feelings are not your friend. They are too unpredictable. That is their virtue. The foundation of acting is clarity of thought.
    Throughout my career I have had directors ask,

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