Featured Post

Let's End the Specious Argument of Beloved Dead Masters

In particular, let's end the "argument" between Adler and Strasberg.  There is no substance to their false reasoning upon whi...

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Amy Adams Approach to Sharp Objects

In my 7/20/18 post, "'Dramas are Too Quiet'" AKA Where's the Actor's Technique?" I had responded to Kathryn VanArendonk's discussion of Sharp Objects in the 7/18 edition of Vulture magazine.  Ms. VanArendonk had complained that she couldn't hear all of the dialogue.  She went on to say, "I'll admit that this is a cranky, cantankerous objection, and it's also a massive self-own.  ("I love this show but I can't hear anything they say!" the ancient, belligerent woman yelled online.)  It's an even bigger self-own for someone who may have, perhaps, complained about TV being (literally) too dark.  But the dialogue on Sharp Objects is occasionally so inaudible that it's a very real distraction from an otherwise gorgeous show.  It's time to talk about this problem!"

Further in the article she commented on a particular scene in the show that I chose to address in my 7/20/18 post.  I wrote, "Ms. VanArendonk mentioned a telephone exchange that Amy Adams performed.  I didn't go back to watch it, but am certain that Ms. Adams did not examine carefully, for that scene, what made her say each thought.  It's my opinion that Ms. Adams understands her characters very well in many of her performances.  Her work in Doubt, for example, was luminous.  What a pleasure it was to be taken for a secure ride with the lead actors of that film!  However, in Sharp Objects, I think she hasn't sharpened the actions of each sentence; she has worked on the inner life of the character and is showing it.  But the character utters ideas/needs in order to survive, to get a grip on her relationship to her environment, and each sentence she utters is progressive toward the journey of discovery she has undertaken. "What need is making me say this sentence?"   We would hear the ideas of each sentence with clarity if Ms. Adams had done this preparatory work."

Recently, Backstage published a 12/5/18 article, The Amy Adams Approach written by Jenna Marotta, in which Ms. Adams discussed her performance in Sharp Objects and clarified for me why, in my opinion, she performed incorrectly.  In her discussion of her preparations for the role, Ms. Adams stated that the director, Jean-Marc Vallée was against the use of voiceover, “so it was really important to me to be able to communicate her inner monologue just through acting.  There’s a sadness and an intensity about her, but she’s also very raw and very vulnerable, and also very compassionate, like strangely compassionate.”  This is the error I perceived when I watched her performance.

Although many actors might be able to define the inner monologue correctly, its use in English is a translation from Russian, and, I've heard, is still used in acting classes at MAT.  But what Vakhtangov meant by inner monologue was thought/images. (The story I learned was that Vakhtangov insisted to Stanislavsky that that this must be practiced; it doesn't matter to me whose realization it was - some of us might think it's very important, I don't.)  Inner monologue suggests complete, clear, consecutive sentences.  But thought isn't like that. It's kaleidoscopic, isn't it?  How can an actor perform the kaleidoscopic inner thoughts/images of a character? 

Well, one can't act a thought; one can't "communicate" the inner life of the character except through action.  It's the action, the objective, the "what do I want to do?", the need (I like Kim Stanley's idea to use need; it's stronger), in short, one can only act a verb; not a noun or adjective, and certainly not a feeling or emotion.  I realize I'm going over familiar ground, but look how easily very talented actors can fall into the trap of trying to compensate for the decision of a director.


No comments:

Post a Comment