Saturday, March 03, 2012

Scrambled Eggs

As a brief addendum to my recent post on acting, this video on YouTube, 10 Reasons Why I Hate Method Acting, got me thinking about all the nonsense about acting. For the most part I agree with Coach Scotland. David Mamet's books on acting also demolish the Strasburg school of acting that places so much emphasis on evoking emotions -- in the actor, not in the audience.

When I was a teenager and a drama geek in high school, I read something that said if you act Hamlet, you should know what Hamlet ate for breakfast. I took this advice seriously. It came from an AUTHORITY. He must know what he is talking about, right?

For years after that when I would prepare a role, I took a few minutes to decide what my character ate for breakfast. It was always scrambled eggs. Perhaps this is because I enjoy scrambled eggs.

Bottom the weaver in A Midsummer-Night's Dream? He ate scrambled eggs for breakfast. Joe Keller in All My Sons? Scrambled eggs. Jupiter in Amphitryon 38? Even the gods eat scrambled eggs.

Finally, I told myself, "If someone asks the breakfast question, just say scrambled eggs for all characters." (I even wondered at one point if I should have an answer for lunch and dinner, too.)

I did not suffer this nonsense because I thought it would help my acting. I knew it was pretty much a waste of time. I did it so that if anyone asked about my character's breakfast, I would have an answer -- because I wanted people to think I was a serious actor. I did not want some acting know-it-all to sneer at me and ask, "You don't know what your character ate for breakfast? And you call yourself an actor?"

Thus does nonsense flourish. Some authority says this is good, this is cool, and young people, desperate to have others think they are smart and hip, parrot the nonsense. Political Correctness preys upon fearful young people this way. The argument from intimidation, which Ayn Rand dismantled in one of her many great essays, uses the same fear.

By the way, Ian Fleming was also a great lover of scrambled eggs and he made his hero James Bond eat them. He loved to detail Bond's style -- what he drank, his clothes, his cigarette lighter, his car. He even wrote a recipe now called Scrambled Eggs James Bond.

So if Daniel Craig were asked what Bond ate for breakfast, he could say scrambled eggs and actually get it right. Or he could give the questioner a withering stare and make him feel really, really stupid.

I am currently working on Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing and Buckingham in Richard III. They are both huge eaters of scrambled eggs, you bet.