One of the questions at yesterday's Coffee and Conversation concerned delineating an actor's performance from direction and script. Following some meditation time, I feel that I might provide a little better answer to that question here on the blog.
For me it takes a while to digest a performance. My knee jerk reaction is to blame or praise the actors. I think this is common amongst theatre goers because the actors are the element of a production that is "out there" doing the work of interpreting the text and direction. The acting peice is starting point.
If an actor's execution of the text is good and the elements of her/his craft are well interpreted and problems remain I next will look for problems in the script. A weak script will stand out even with the best actors "playing" it, so often that judgement is easy to make. But in some cases a script is cleverly written but does not clearly make a point- those are more difficult for me to call because I may be concentrating on other factors while watching a show.
After filtering acting and script I look at direction. For me this is the hardest thing to judge if it is not rediculously clear (as in actors moving around the stage for no reason). I remember the worst director I ever worked with. It was in DC in a production of "Tartuffe". We (actors) were running all over the stage like chickens in a yard at feed time. The director was unable to communicate his "vision" for the play nor did he pocess the strength to reel in the over zealous performances or coerce the weaker ones. The sad result was performances all over the map - an uncohesive mess. Everyone suffered for it -especially the audience.
I hope this is a clearer answer to the process I personally go through to disect these three elements of a play.
See you at the theatre!