Narcissus and American Dramatic Acting

November 21, 2017

Narcissus, the son of a god and a nymph, was a beauty, who, seeing his reflection in a pool of water, became transfixed with it. Seeing only himself, and unable to pull away, such was his self-adoration, that he pined away to nothingness.
 
Such is the story of many American actors. Acting in this country has become the province of self-adorers. Wynt, you are being most unfair, you say. Hardly!
 
Actors are routinely instructed “on the best authority” to rely heavily upon their own personal life experiences and emotions (what are emotions?) to enact “real” feeling in a fictional character they’ve never been or met: this is the adoration of the self.
 
But it’s not about you. And thank goodness for that, because if we limited dramatic performance to our rather dull, dreary, routine everyday lives, we’d get…oh my, we’d get dull, dreary, routine everyday drama. Do you see where I’m going with this?
(This image, Houasse’s Narcissus, is in the public domain.)

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Wyntner Woody