In the theater, taking the stage, defining the space that you occupy, is an artful necessity. Lacking that art, your performance and the work you perform is riddled with holes. I once had the opportunity to see two performances within a week of each other of the opera, Tales of Hoffman, at the Metropolitan Opera. In the first, the role of Hoffman was taken by Alfredo Kraus — a man in his sixties at the time — an exemplar of his profession. In the subsequent performance (a student of mine sang the role of Olympia, the doll, in both) a much younger, new arrival sang the role of Hoffman. In the first performance I never took my eyes off Mr. Kraus. He moved with the élan of a much younger man. He took the stage and he took no prisoners. I really can’t say I was aware of all this until I saw and heard the much younger man. When he sang, I had to search the stage for him in a crowd of singing actors, sometimes unsuccessfully. How can you, dear reader, avoid his fate? How can you avoid receding into the set when you take the stage, walk into a classroom, or step into an office for an interview?
As you take the floor, as you enter the stage, you can enjoy the state of becoming. There is creative tension in arriving. Arriving awakens expectation and arrival cancels it. Enjoy your progress, the changes occurring in you as you reorient your self in your changing environment. Don’t rush! Walk as though followed by the ghosts of dissolving images in a time-lapse photograph. Move with the gravitas of those images you leave behind and constantly create. They suck you back in changing proportion to the attraction all that is in front of you. Walk in a series of successive equilibriums, point, after point, after point, a continuing succession of nows. You are buoyed up from the front and the back. Supported in that equilibrium you can free your neck. If your eyes looked up or down the head could easily follow. If your eyes looked right or left, the same. Your neck is the vertical of a question mark, your occiput its curve toward the back, its curve up and forward, the inclination of your head, a pulse, not a fixation.
When you arrive, don’t. Flirt with arrival. The center is the space of establishment, of solidity. No decent photographer puts his subject in the middle of the frame. No cat will reside there either. (There had to be cats since this piece might reside on Facebook.) There is continuing tension off center. Live in the ecotone, in the place where environments meet, where change is most highly charged. Master your space. Play with it as your medium, and in doing so become the artist of your self. The world, your audience, is going to notice.
Great post Alan! Great to be reminded of hearing Alfredo Kraus sing, along with Beverly Sills, in a performance of Don Pasquale at the Met. He certainly pulled off that young man role amazingly well in that performance as well!