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Giving a demmed note

I don’t believe in giving notes to other actors. I feel quite strongly about this, enough to get snippy if another actor tries to give interpretation notes to me. In fact, I feel strongly enough about this that I rarely talk about what I’m doing with the role with the other actors in the play, except in discussion with the director. Yes, it’s a collaborative thing, and I do know that my interpretation puts limits on other people’s interpretation of their own parts, but I see that as one of the Director’s jobs—if I feel that I am not getting what I want from another actor, I talk to the Director about it, and then either the Director disagrees with me and sets me straight or gives the note to the other actor.

Well, and in fact I do on occasion give the clich├ęd I love what you are doing with that scene sort of comment, but that doesn’t count as giving notes. No, what I mean by giving notes is why don’t you try playing that with more anger or surely the emphasis is on the end of the sentence sort of thing. Which I keep to myself. Because I do think it. I don’t say it. I am tempted to say it, but I do not. Perhaps it’s because I am an overly intellectual actor that I inevitably have a line or two for any scene to which I have paid serious attention that I feel I would do differently. Mostly, for me, it’s words: some word that isn’t getting punched with enough emphasis, or isn’t being used to echo a previous usage, or isn’t being differentiated enough from the circumjacent dialogue.

What is tempting me at the moment is that the character of Tuppy (which is the part I wanted to play, which makes it worse) is, unless I have missed something, the only character in the piece that swears. He says demmed this and demmed that, probably says the D-word a dozen times in as many lines. And, as I say, nobody else swears with a big, big D at all—not never. That’s the sort of thing that doesn’t (it seems to me) happen by accident: Oscar Wilde meant that Tuppy was the kind of Tuppy who comes out with a big, big D even when in groups of men who use more discreet language to say far more indiscreet things, which again, is the sort of Tuppy that Tuppy must be.

All of which, to me, says that Tuppy should emphasize those ds, every demmed time. Maybe even wind up to them a bit with a pause to set his Tuppy mouth for it. A tiny pause, of course, perhaps an infinitesimal pause. Or maybe no pause at all, maybe a little bob of the head for emphasis, or the chin jutting out a trife. Something. A hand gesture, although that would be a bit much, unless the actor (and Director, yes) can think of something that would work. Something. A small thing, but a consistent thing. The audience should notice.

I expect I am doing something that is driving the Tuppy-actor crazy as well, of course. And he’s a fine actor, doing a fine job in the role—as I hope am I in mine. I won’t tell him mine, and I hope he won’t tell me his. I’ll try to do what the Director wants, and within that what makes sense to me, and someday we will all look back on this and laugh.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,