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Acting
Xavier Durringer
Acting
Book cover
Actes du théâtre n° 55.[ imprimer ]
In a prison cell, Robert, and actor and director convicted of murder, joins Gepetto, a small-time crook, and Horace, his mysterious cellmate who is a mute insomniac.
Robert and Gepetto bond through the acting profession. But the two prisoners don’t have the same definition for it: Gepetto thinks only of the star system, while Robert invokes Shakespeare, Stanislavsky and the actor’s art. But the latter ends up teaching the former about comedy; in their cell that is gradually transformed into a stage, the master pushes his pupil to his limits, into the deepest secrets of the profession, and takes on a wild dare: trying to make him the greatest actor in the world.

To Be or Not to Be in Prison

“This new play signals Durringer’s return to the theater after many years devoted to writing and directing films. With Acting, he has created an unusual work in which a prison becomes the stage for learning to act. Robert’s passing on of his acting craft to the uneducated small-time thug who dreams of becoming a star is its main focus. The acting techniques, taught through Hamlet’s monologue, are highlighted in an amazing way. You can see the expertise in the screenwriter’s style and dialogue in the service of a taut, powerful, and highly theatrical dramatic line.”

Jean-Pierre Engelbach (éditions Théâtrales)

Production in progress.

Characters : 4 men -
Editions Théâtrales - www.editionstheatrales.fr

ROBERT Golden rule number 1 of casting, since you don’t know what the guy’s looking for, or what he wants, and you don’t know the character, you’ve gotta act as neutral as possible see but at the same time with style. You’ve gotta hook the guy so he’ll remember you and it’s gotta be in the first few seconds. You’ve gotta create mystery.
Cuz when the guy goes home, he’s already seen eighty dudes,
and who’s he gonna remember?
GEPETTO Uh I dunno…
ROBERT You, he’s gotta remember you!
So those first few seconds are vital, you go in and before opening your mouth, the guy knows if you’ve got a chance or not. It’s the same for you, when you see a woman in the street, you know at first glance if it’s possible or not with her, if you could sleep with her, well it’s the same with the director, he knows at first glance!
GEPETTO If he’s gonna sleep with you?
ROBERT Nah, stupid, he knows if you fit what he’s looking for. So the number one quality is not to look like anything much, then he can imagine it for himself. When you run into great actors in the street you don’t recognize them, they blend in anonymously, like chameleons, they take on the color of the rain…
You’ve gotta know how to make yourself invisible, to watch people. You work as an actor starts in the street, by watching the people passing by. How they hold themselves, how they smoke and what brand they smoke, how they hold their cigs, how they breathe in the smoke and how they blow it out, how they flick their ashes; you watch the pace, how another one chews his gum, if he’s wearing any rings and on which fingers, and how he’s dressed? The shape of his shoes.
If he has any tics, and how he walks.
GEPETTO What do you mean how he walks?
ROBERT (showing him different ways of walking) well sure there are lots of ways of walking and holding yourself. With your feet pointed in like this, or slightly out like a duck, your torso thrust forward like this or your balls forward like this or with your nose sticking out like somebody as blind as a bat, or with a two hundred-pound ass like this, or a tight little ass that’s squeezing a two hundred-dollar bill really hard. Or with a big gut. Or with your chin jutting out, a bit uppity like this, see, there are thousands of ways of walking. You’ve gotta watch everything and then you take notes in a little notebook, and you write down your thoughts!
GEPETTO What thoughts?
ROBERT Well, whatever you see, what strikes you, are you stupid or just doing it on purpose?
Right, go ahead and walk, walk with your feet turned in. With your ass sticking out. Go ahead, walk, walk!
You’ve gotta learn how to walk again.

Black.