Thursday, October 05, 2006

Julius Caesar

My best friend told me today that his 11-year old daughter is memorizing Mark Antony’s speech from ‘Julius Caesar’ for school. Having a daughter that age as well, I can imagine the delivery. Picture someone who just wants to get through the speech as fast as possible and whose ambition is certainly not made of ANY stuff right now, to say nothing of sterner stuff. The result is significant theatrical dissonance, which could almost be funny if overdone, like in a Christopher Guest movie or such. I'm expecting the rendition in the Richmond Shakespeare production will be a bit more rousing.

Also, yesterday was a testament to never knowing where theater is going to pop up in your life. I was reading a book called “Women in Early Imperial China,” because, well, it’s a long story but I just was. And here’s what I came across: “Sociologists have long used role playing to create subtle models of society. According to one theory, individuals in society are akin to actors in a play. Sometimes we carry ourselves as if we were back stage, preparing for a public performance. Other times we are on stage, in view of others, playing out chosen social roles. As social actors, we choose the props, clothing, and makeup that will make our performance appear most believable…In real life as in the theater, the actor and audience influence each other. Actors manipulate the audience, and the audience’s reaction shapes an ongoing performance….To a large degree, we are the sum of the social roles we perform.”

OK, so that’s a lot of sociological theory, but if you followed that, imagine that one of your social roles is being an actor (as it very likely might be if you are reading this). Then, it’s kind of like role-playing within role-playing! And what if the character you are playing is an actor! That’s like sociology to the third power!

And even though this seems like the kind of conversation you have late at night in a college dorm room, I assure you I’m not stoned as I’m writing this…

4 comments:

JB said...

Facinating...now I'll be up all night!

oneeyeddog said...

Before I read that last sentence I thought "I wonder if he's stoned."

Dave T said...

I should also probably mention that one of the reasons I thought about actors playing actors is reading about the show "Small Tragedy" playing at University of Richmond this weekend. Man, with all of the pro theater going on, it's nearly impossible to keep up with the college stuff too. Even so, this sounds like an interesting show...

Frank Creasy said...

As an actor with a degree in sociology (long story short...never pick a college major while under the influence), this posting does point to one of the few theories I can recall from lo those many years ago. It dealt with something called "front room" and "back room" behavior, which points out how we all play social roles, whether we consider ourselves actors or not. Example: Your in-laws are leaving following a visit to your home. You tell them sweetly how good it was to see them as you walk them to the door (front room). Closing the door behind them, you turn to your wife and say, "Jesus H. Christ, I thought they'd NEVER leave!" (back room). Oh, by the way, I LOVE my in-laws. Really. No, really.